Our joints can make suspicious sounds. Learn more about why they are noisy and when it’s time to see a doctor.
Clicking, cracking, grinding, popping, snapping — these are all common and generally harmless sounds our joints can make. These varied sounds can be caused by a number of different reasons, including:
Release of Gas
The fluids in our joints contain a mixture of gases — carbon dioxide, nitrogen and oxygen. When you pop or crack a joint — such as stiff knuckles — you’re releasing these pent-up gases, which makes a popping or cracking noise.
Rubbing of Rough Surfaces
If you have an arthritic joint, its cartilage has worn away, causing your bones to grind or rub each other — which can cause an uneasy sound as well as pain and swelling.
Stretching of Tight Muscles
When you move your joints, the surrounding tendons also move — sometimes out of place — causing a snapping sound as they move back to the proper place. Also, your ligaments tend to tighten when your joints move, so they can produce a cracking sound.
While joint sounds for the most part are not a problem, they do become a cause for concern when accompanied by pain or swelling — which signals a joint problem or disease activity either in or around the joint. If you are experiencing pain, swelling, severe stiffness or limited range of motion in any of your joints, it’s important to be evaluated by a doctor.
Whether your joints are healthy and simply make harmless sounds from time to time or you have arthritis in your joints, exercise is one of the best things you can do to boost your joint and overall health.
You can increase your range of motion and strengthen your bones and the muscles surrounding your joints by practicing the following low-impact exercises:
- aerobic (endurance) exercises — which include bicycling, jogging, swimming and walking
- aquatic (water) exercises — such as water aerobics — which are performed in knee- or shoulder-height water, easing the strain on your muscles and joints as you exercise
- flexibility exercises — which improve your range of motion — include gentle stretching and exercises that focus on moving your joints in their full span of motion
Before beginning any new exercise regimen, consult with your doctor to create an individualized exercise plan that’s right for you.
To find a doctor who meets your health needs, visit PorterPhysicianGroup.com or call (844) PPG-DOCS (774-3627).