You know how there’s always a scene in horror movies where a creaking floorboard gives them away? For a lot of people, the floorboard is probably unnecessary. The weird noises coming from their knees, necks, shoulders, and fingers would do the job. But what are these noises? Why do joints make grinding, clicking and popping sounds? And, the most important question our patients ask us at Inner West Health Clinic. Are they something to worry about? Our answer assumes you’re not aiming for a stealthy getaway. (We’re osteopaths, not escape artists, after all.) Let’s first try to understand what’s happening in your body.
What is Causing the Noises Anyway?
A few different things could be happening.
- A tendon or ligament might be snapping over a bony bump.
- A ligament might tighten with movement causing a bit of a click or creak.
- Air bubbles inside the joint can pop. (The famous noise of cracking your fingers.)
- Muscle tightness (particularly around the neck) might cause it to grind with movement.
- Cartilage may have worn away, meaning the bones can no longer glide against each other smoothly.
When should I be concerned?
Now a few little pops especially after you’ve been very sedentary for a while are no big deal. The working theory is that that’s just bubbles in your synovial fluid responding to a sudden movement. (And there’s really no evidence after studying habitual finger crackers for years that these little pops might lead to arthritis later in life.) But other grinding noises and cracking noises can be a problem. These sounds are called ‘crepitus’ and indicate things are out of balance. Cartilage may have deteriorated. Unfortunately, there is a correlation between these sounds and osteoarthritis later in life. A lower-pitched clunking sound, followed by a reduction in your range of motion is also a cause for concern. Your body is letting you know something’s out of balance and likely to lead to further problems if ignored. And of course if the noise comes with pain you need to take action.
What can be done?
Call us on 9078 2455 to make an appointment at [insert clinic name here]. Your osteopath can diagnose the nature of the noise and it’s causes. Osteopathic manipulation may bring pain relief. It will also get your body into better alignment so that your muscular system better supports the joint in its ideal position. Your osteopath will also work with you to find an exercise program that works for you and your current pain levels and abilities to build a stronger more stable body to support your joints. In the meantime, keep moving gently. Motion is lotion! If you keep moving your joints, you keep healing fluids moving through them. We look forward to working with you towards your health goals.
Maschke, S. (2019, June 19). Why Do My Joints Make Noise ― Clicking and Popping? The Cleveland Clinic. [Online] Available at https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-do-my-joints-make-noise-clicking-and-popping/. Accessed on 11/03/2023.
Vagg, M. (2013, March 19). Are Noisy Joints a Sign of Arthritis? [Online] Available athttps://www.abc.net.au/health/talkinghealth/factbuster/stories/2013/03/19/3718945.htm. Accessed on 11/03/2023.
The Wellness Corner. (October 2021) Should You Be Worried If Your Joints Crack All the Time? [Online] Available at https://www.thewellnesscorner.com/blog/is-joint-cracking-sound-harmful. Accessed on 11/03/2023.