Frequently Asked Questions about Noisy Joints

Health Professional

Crack, snap and pop. Are those familiar sounds that you hear when you bend your knee, turn your head or move your arm? Noisy joints can be very distressing, especially when you are uncertain about the cause or the prognosis for these sounds. Hopefully these answers to frequently asked questions regarding noisy joints will set your mind at ease.

What causes joint noise?  To understand the cause, you need to go back to your youth. Remember how flexible you were then? Remember how smooth your skin was back in your childhood? Things have changed now, haven't they? Your joints have changed, too. The joint surfaces might not be very smooth anymore. The joint might be looser than it was, too. These changes cause the joint to grind a little, snap a little and pop a little, too.

What can I do to make the noises go away?  Sometimes there is nothing that can be done to reverse the effects of time. Before you accept what you cannot change, you can try to work with a physical therapist in an effort to eliminate the noise. Certain exercises may help to rebalance or realign your joint. When one muscle group dominates over another, joints can get out of balance like tires on a vehicle. Muscles can pull the joint out of alignment causing it to snap, pop, or crack. By improving strength in weaker muscles, the joint will align better and hopefully function more quietly, too. Sometimes an orthopedic surgeon can help to restore the smoothness of the joint cartilage in an effort to improve function and prevent painful arthritis. Read more about  Articular Cartilage Restoration.

Are these noises harmful?   Usually, noises are natural. However, when pain starts to accompany the noises, there may be a more significant joint problem that requires further investigating. A common cause for pain in a noisy joint is osteoarthritis, which means that the joint has become inflamed. Sometimes the noises will come and go depending on what you are doing and when you are doing it. Don't be alarmed. Depending on the circumstance, noises are not necessarily harmful.

Will the noisy joint eventually become painful?  Not necessarily. Some people can live a lifetime with a noisy joint and never experience pain.

The most important question is the following:

How can I prevent further problems from developing in my noisy joint?  Joint health is the best way to prevent joint pain. As said earlier, keeping a joint well aligned and balanced with proper fitness is important. Minimizing joint inflammation is equally important, too. In order to help your body control inflammation naturally, try following the  anti-Inflammatory diet  as a guideline. Minimizing risks for joint injury, avoiding joint overload and avoiding joint overuse are all important ways to prevent noisy joints from becoming painful.