Popping Joints, is it Harmful?

Cracking and popping joints, is it bad?

I have one ankle that constantly cracks. I’ve never had any medical issues with it, just constant noises. It cracks when I walk, sit, stretch, wake up, whenever! So I was wondering.. Could this be bad for me? I figured this has to be happening to other people also, so I did a little research online to share.

 

< http://legacy.owensboro.kctcs.edu/gcaplan/anat/notes/Image585.gif >

Joints often make a lot of different noises, including popping, cracking, snapping and grinding. The joints people normally hear crack are the knees, ankles, back, neck and knuckles.

The most common reason for cracking:

In and around your joints is a fluid called “synovial fluid.” This fluid is like a lubricant for the joints. This fluid is made by a membrane inside your joints called a “synovial membrane.”  Synovial fluid contains quite a few gases like oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. When joints are cracked a small separation between the joints is made. This separation increases the volume of space that synovial fluid can go into. Synovial fluid likes to fill up the entire space available. By quickly making the volume/space larger it creates a “negative pressure” almost like a vacuum around the fluid. When this happens there isn’t enough fluid to fill the empty space so instead, the space gets filled by the gases in the fluid. Usually the gases stay in the fluid (they stay in solution like when you dissolve salt in water) but the gas only stays in the fluid (at body temperature) under a certain pressure, when you decrease the pressure, the gas gets to escape. This forms bubbles that quickly pop and make the cracking or popping sound you are familiar with.

Another reason: is the movement of joints, tendons and ligaments.

 When a joint moves, the tendon’s position changes and moves slightly out of place. You may hear a snapping sound as the tendon returns to its original position. In addition, your ligaments may tighten as you move your joints. This commonly occurs in your knee or ankle, and can make a cracking sound.Lastly, rough surfaces may also cause noise. Arthritic joints make sounds caused by the loss of smooth cartilage and the roughness of the joint surface.

Is joint cracking harmful? If you are feeling pain when your joints pop, then you should seek a health care professional. In terms of knuckle cracking, some studies show that knuckle cracking does not cause serious harm. Other studies show that repetitive knuckle cracking can do some damage to the soft tissue of the joint.

Do you have a joint that constantly cracks? Comment below!

References:

http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/joint.html

 

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6 comments

  1. Yes! Actually I have 3. An ancle like you, an elbow (they don’t hurt) and a shoulder all on my left side, that is curios. I’ve been recovering from a frozen shoulder, It has been a long painful journey. after 8 months (wow!) I am able to have the full range of movement (very happy). Now sometimes it gets stuck and I kind of have to find its correct position and it pops. I’ve been told that there are 3 main bones that take place in the articulation movement. But they have a sequence, if this sequence is not the correct one, it will stuck, cause pain or crack. So, still working with it, hope someday it will be back to normal! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My Ankles and knees have popped and crackled most of my life without any pain. I guess it is just natural. This was a very informative post. Thanks for all the information.

    Like

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