Why Your Joints Are Cracking

woman cracking joints

Do you hear and feel cracking in your joints when you walk down the stairs? Maybe you hear little pops when you stand up after a long time sitting, or you feel small explosions in your joints when you start your daily run.

If your joints are suddenly cracking, you probably want to know why. Many factors can cause your joints to crack — including a few  conditions you need to keep an eye on so they don’t worsen.

Why Are My Joints Cracking All of a Sudden?

If your joints are cracking more than usual, you should first think about when it happens and what you have been doing. Some activities and conditions can contribute to joint cracking.

Joint popping that occurs occasionally and comes on with some pain may be related to an injury to the tendon. It could be a symptom of:

  • A ligament tear or strain
  • A broken bone
  • Joint dislocation
  • Tendon rupture

When you suspect the crackling is related to such an injury, you should contact a doctor to treat the underlying cause of your popping. A few days of rest or a sling or cast may help with healing.

The release of gas can also cause joint crackling. Joints include synovial fluid, which lubricates them. The fluid has oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen. When the capsule of the joint stretches, the gas moves out, causing the popping sound. Some people think it feels good to pop or crack a joint, as it gives a bit of relief to a tight area.

Joint Cracking That Happens Repeatedly

Often-repeated joint popping doesn’t mean anything serious. It can happen when a tendon snaps over a bone. You may have bony prominences that make these snaps more frequent.

But occasionally, repeated joint crackling does indicate a more serious issue. You may have a cartilage tear or arthritis, which can lead cartilage to degenerate.  When you have less cartilage, your bones are more likely to rub together, which causes the sound.

Joint Cracking During Exercise

Some people find their joints pop during intense exercise, such as running or lifting heavy weights. Snapping may be the result of a tight muscle causing friction on the bone. Try stretching more before you exercise and making sure you have warmed up properly before you start working out.

Many people find that the most popping comes from their shoulders. Shoulder joints have a great deal of range and mobility, so moving them can result in cracks and pops. Just make sure what you hear is not a tear. If you think you hear a tear, you should go to a doctor for a diagnosis, as a tear is more serious than a crack.

Why Do My Joints Crack and Hurt So Much? Ask Our Physicians

If you are still not sure why your joints are cracking — or you are experiencing pain when they crack — get in touch with OrthoBethesda. We can help you determine the cause of your pain and identify some possible treatment options. Make an appointment with us today.