Ever wonder what the sounds your joints make mean?
Have you tried to sneak up, creep quietly about for a surprise or try to not wake anyone up? But then, ‘CRACK! POP!’ and the gig is up! That unsuspecting person is now FULLY aware that you are near since your creaking joints have given your whereabouts away…sigh.
Here’s a quick resource for joint sounds that are good, ok and bad based on the the article Joint Sounds and How Ligaments Respond to Orthobiologics
Pops and Cracks: Generally, if the sounds come and go then these are GOOD sounds that a joint makes. As stated in the article above, ” pops and cracks are caused by nitrogen bubbles in joint fluid. ”
Crepitus: This sounds like ‘Rice Krispies’ being crushed and is an OK sign if you are pain free. Crepitus does indicate some level of arthritis is forming and that the joint cartilage is roughened or missing. This sound is most common at the knee cap.
What can you do to decrease this crepitus sound? DECREASE INFLAMMATION and start the healing process.
You can simply stop doing the activity that is causing the crepitus which is more than likely weight bearing. But if you can’t do that since it may be a job requirement, then you need to slow down the inflammatory process by wearing a brace, taking NSAIDS or Ibuprofen, Turmeric or tart cherry juice concentrate.
Clunk: This sound is a DEEP clunk and indicates joint instability which is BAD.
One reason this clunk sound may be happening is that a ligament or tendon is snapping over a joint. Done repetitively, the ligament or tendon will begin to shred and lose its strength.
Another reason for the clunk sound is that a bone is rotating off its axis on another bone. Imagine a tower of blocks and one of the blocks is askew or not lined up with the rest of the blocks. This can happen in the adult spine and is known as listhesis. Listhesis is a hyper mobile vertebrae in the spine most commonly seen in aged adult spines with scoliosis or spondylolisthesis.
What can you do to decrease or stop the clunk sound? STABILIZE the joint. Sometimes a brace can help or strength exercises. But if these don’t work, then it’s time to see your physical therapist and figure out a plan.
So there’s my quick guide to joint sounds: POP, CRACK, CREPITUS and CLUNK and what they may mean to you and your health.
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