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What Causes Cracking & Popping Noises In Your Joints

Updated: Nov 11



What You Need to Know About Joint Noises


Pop! Crack! Click!

These sounds of cracking joints are usually nothing to worry about, especially if they happen accidentally or offer no discomfort afterward. Contrary to popular opinion, these noises don’t mean your bones are weakening, breaking, or suffering from arthritis. However, if pain and swelling accompany these normal occurrences, it may be a sign of a problem. Let’s find out what causes these surprising noises and what you can do if they start hurting immediately!

The What and Why

People often crack their knuckles to loosen the muscles and tendons around the area. The sound of cracking bones is caused by nitrogen gas bubbles compressing and bursting. Since nitrogen occurs naturally around these joints, this is a common sound referred to as cavitation. This simply means the gas bubbles are being released or popped. Exercise and movement help to keep your body lubricated and prevent the creaking and cracking sounds that can come from stiffness and lack of mobility. Joints make cracking noises naturally when we move them around, especially as we age. Usually, these sounds aren't something to worry about unless we're also experiencing pain. However, if we deliberately crack our joints or ask someone else to crack others' backs, we can cause harm.

They make that sound first because you’re creating a vacuum. This happens when the joint is pulled apart slightly and then released, which causes a change in pressure. This pressure change causes the formation of a small bubble, which then pops and creates that cracking sound.

The second reason is because of the presence of synovial fluid. This is a thick fluid that surrounds your joints and helps to lubricate them. When you crack your joints, this fluid is forced out of the joint and back in again, contributing to the cracking sound.

Lastly, the sound may also be due to the snapping of ligaments or tendons around the joint. When you crack your joints, these ligaments and tendons can sometimes snap or pop, creating the characteristic sound.

In terms of noise levels, the tendons near the shoulder blades are some of the noisiest in the body because they're located so close to the bone. If you find that the noise from certain parts of your body bothersome or causes you anxiety, you may want to try stretching or doing yoga lightly.

The sound of your joints and bones cracking mid-movement may reduce over time. Remember, these sounds are generally nothing to worry about and are a natural process, especially if you’ve been stuck in one position for long periods. As mentioned earlier, consistent physical activity or a movement break every 30 minutes (meaning you stand up and stretch certain body parts will reduce the noise.

When There’s Pain, Do These

If you experience discomfort, swelling, or pain after a crack, it could be one of two things:

  • First, you irritate a muscle or ligament that’s out of place. Place an ice pack to reduce swelling.

  • Or, you have underlying arthritis or gout worsened by the cracking.

If the swelling persists in any of these scenarios, visit your general physician or massage therapist immediately.

Chiropractic Care in Coquitlam & Port Moody BC

If you want to avoid triggering an underlying pain after cracking, visit our chiropractors in Coquitlam and Port Moody from Inspine Therapy today! We diagnose and treat neuromuscular conditions through manual adjustment or spinal manipulation to improve range of motion and quality of life. Book online through our website now!

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