When I get out of bed in the morning one of the first things that I notice is an audible crack from my knees as I stand up which is usually followed by a pop from my left ankle and sometimes a creaking noise when I turn my neck to check the time.
A frequently asked question by my patients “Is cracking and noise from my joints normal?” As joint noise can be loud and therefore disconcerting it is not surprising that is can cause concern and worry.
Occasional snapping, cracking and popping is normal especially as we get older. Some people seem to experience it more than others. I am only concerned when it is associated with pain and or swelling. This may be a sign that you have an injury or something wrong and it would be sensible to have it checked by a medical professional.
So, what can be the cause of the noise?
As we get older, we observe in the mirror the appearance of grey hair and wrinkles. Just as our body changes on the outside we all change on the inside too and that includes are joints. The hard-shiny cartilage which covers our joint surfaces becomes rougher as it wears and so when the joint moves we are aware of noise – this can be intermittent and can vary depending upon our position.
But younger people can also get noises especially when they exercise or lift weights. This may be a click or snap and may be due to a tendon rubbing over a bone especially if the muscle attached to the tendon is tight. Sometimes in this instance stretching will relieve it.
So why do knuckles crack?
This is also common and is probably caused by the compression of gas bubbles which occur naturally within the joint. It is not harmful but equally is not beneficial either!
What can I do to help my creaky joints?
My advice would be to move more frequently especially if your job involves sitting down. Perhaps try and drink more fluid so that you will need to get up more often to go to the bathroom. Maybe use one further way on a different floor. Use the stairs, park further away etc
Try and introduce some “bite sized” movement breaks into your day. Try doing some squats, lunges or arm curls when you are waiting for the kettle to boil.
“Motion is lotion”
If you are concerned about your joints or need advice on how to best manage a creaky joint please feel free to get in touch with us.