What comes to your mind when you hear the sounds of your body grinding, popping or cracking? Does panic strike through you as you fear you’ve broken something or popped an important bone out of place? Or do you let out a deep sigh of relief at the feeling of instant tension release?
How you feel about your sometimes audible joints is personal to you. But love them or loathe them, most people simply want to know how on earth our bodies sometimes echo a Rice Crispies advert!
According to our Ealing chiropractor, it’s not just curiosity that prompts some clarification on joint cracking; knowing why our joints make strange noises is actually important to our health. For some people, the fear and uncertainty these sounds evoke stop them from carrying out healthy exercises. On the other end of the scale, some people seek out dangerous methods to purposely crack their joints.
To put it simply, joints – in particular the knees, knuckles, ankles, neck and back – can make a variety of sounds. This includes popping, grinding, cracking and snapping. There are also a few different reasons for these sounds. Let’s take a look.
Joints contain synovial fluid that acts as a lubricant. This fluid contains oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Popping or cracking a joint stretches the joint capsule which causes gas to be released. Ever noticed that you can’t crack the same knuckle again for a while? That’s because you have to wait for the gases to return to the lubricating fluid.
Movement of joints, tendons and ligaments
When you move a joint, the position of the tendon changes and shifts slightly out of place. A snapping sound may occur when the tendon moves back to its original position. Your ligaments may also tighten as you move your joints. This is a common reason for the cracking sound that occurs in your knees or ankles.
Joint surfaces that have reduced smooth cartilage can cause a cracking sound. This is common in people with arthritis.
Even though it is relatively common for our joints to sometimes “sound off” unexpectedly, you should seek professional advice if you feel pain when your joints pop or crack. You should also never intentionally try to crack your own body. Only a trained healthcare professional, such as a chiropractor, can safely manipulate your joints.