Sometimes joints make noises. These faint popping or cracking sounds that occur when you flex a joint can be a bit concerning. But are they really something to worry about? Thankfully, they often aren’t.
It’s joints like the ankle or wrist that pop most frequently. When you’re walking around or stepping onto something, it’s not uncommon to feel and hear a gentle pop. The regularity of this can increase with age, and in some ways, it appears to be a symptom of early-stage joint problems.
However, there’s usually nothing to worry about. Especially if there’s no swelling or pain accompanying the pops and crackles. These mild noises are simply resulting from a few harmless symptoms. It could be small amounts of gas escaping from the joint capsule when it changes position. It could be tendons making noises as they move across the top of the joint. Or it could be one of the muscles temporarily slipping out of the groove that normally holds it in place.
Generally, these causes of joint popping aren’t anything serious. They’re just the normal results of using joints on a daily basis. A small amount of friction between the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones of the complex joint structure is a common occurrence. On the other hand, it could be a sign of stiff or tight muscles. This isn’t a serious problem, but if joint popping is a frequent occurrence, it might be a sign you need to limber up your appendages.
Essentially, it’s like any type of exercise, just on a smaller scale. If you’re going to begin a strenuous workout or a long run, it’s best to do some stretching beforehand to gradually warm up your muscles so they’re prepared for exercise. It’s the same for everyday movements such as walking, getting out of a chair, or climbing up stairs. You just don’t need as much of a stretch to get muscles up and ready if you’re not engaging in serious athletic exertion.
Stretching your muscles is basically a tipoff to the body that more activity is on the way. This stimulates the lubrication of joints and powers up your muscles. But unless you’re planning to run a marathon or play a tennis match, your body doesn’t require too much preparation for movement or activity. You just need to make sure you get up every now and then, walk around, and do a few simple stretches. Ensuring you don’t sit in one position for a long time is the best way to reduce any pops, creaks, or cracking sounds when you begin moving again.
However, a major caution is to watch out for any pain or swelling accompanying joint popping. That’s when you need to check with your doctor immediately. In that case, it isn’t just simple readjustment of the musculature and tendons around a joint, it can be a more serious condition such as tendon subluxation. This occurs when the fibrous tissue bands that keep joint tendons in place get distorted. This can lead to dislocation of the tendons, causing swelling, inflammation, pain, and bruising in addition to a popping noise. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, be sure to head to the doctor as soon as possible to get the problem solved.
The important thing to remember is to not worry too much if your joints pop or crackle a bit. It’s usually nothing to worry about. Just check for swelling or inflammation in the joint if it’s a chronic problem and see a doctor if you notice anything unusual happening to the joint. Finally, it never hurts to do some mild stretching and moving about on a regular basis. Long periods of inactivity can lead to stiffness in the joints, which besides creating extra pops and crackles can eventually lead to problems such as arthritis. The bottom line is to stay mobile by using your mobility to move around at intervals throughout the day.