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Should I Be Worried That My Joints Crack and Pop?

Should I Be Worried That My Joints Crack and Pop?

Either for relief or out of habit, you probably crack your knuckles or even your neck every once in a while without giving it a second thought. However, when your knees and other joints begin to creak on their own, you may take it as a sign of getting older and begin to panic. But should you have cause for alarm?

If you have concerns about the cracking and popping noises your joints are making, then here is some information that can put your mind (and bones) at ease.

The Science Behind Cracking and Popping Joints

Cracking your knuckles and the small pops you may hear from your knees while walking, running, or exercising, is relatively harmless. However, if you begin to experience pain while performing such motions, that is a different story. The cracking and popping noises coming from your joints is known as crepitus, which is a grinding or crunching that may occur when you move a joint. Crepitus is caused by several factors including:

  • Small bubbles in the space of your joints – The nitrogen bubbles that exist in the spaces between your joints are what make that distinctive “cracking” sound.
  • Muscles and tendons sliding against bone – “Popping” sounds can be caused by muscles and tendons rubbing against your joints. Muscle tightness can cause this, so work in some stretching to alleviate the popping you might hear during weightlifting or exercising.
  • Osteoarthritis – Contrary to what you may have heard, the act of cracking your knuckles does not increase your chance of arthritis. However, it is possible that you have osteoarthritis if the cracking or popping sounds are accompanied by pain in your joints. Osteoarthritis occurs when the flexible protective tissue at the ends of your joint bones wear down over time resulting in pain and impaired range of motion. If you experience such symptoms, then professional orthopaedic treatment may be necessary to remedy your pain.

Soothe Your Aching Joints at Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine

If your cracking or popping joints are causing you pain and discomfort, know that the qualified team of orthopaedic specialists at Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine are available to help ease your joint pain.

At Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine, we’re proud to play a role in helping people regain mobility and get back to their daily routines free of pain. If you’ve experienced any type of painful joint or orthopaedic ailment, our team is here to help you recover.

To learn about our advanced treatment options or request an appointment online, please give our experts a call today at 904-825-0540.


Paul Roettges, MDPaul Roettges, MD
A member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American Association of Knee and Hip Surgeries, Dr. Roettges performs hip and knee replacements as well as complex unresolved hip and knee pain.