So Why Do My Joints Crack And Should I worry?
Have you been experiencing those clicking noise coming from your joint? Sometimes the noise may be accompanied by pain, swelling, or numbness when lifting weight at the gym, or when reaching over your head or as one is walking down the street. The questions is, where is the sound coming from, and why do my joints crack and are there reason to be worried? This article tries to answer these questions and more that you might have concerning joint cracking.
Two main reasons why your Joint is cracking
Early in the 1970’s, research published showed that the sound you experience on your joint when cracked, is brought about by the popping of bubbles in the fluid between your joints, however, in the recent studies, there is a slightly contrasting theory. In a recent study to determine why the joint makes the cracking sound, researchers have come to conclude that the sound comes from gas-filled cavity forming. Typically, the basis of this theory is that all the joints in your body have some form of water balloon called the joint capsules. These capsules are filled with synovial fluid, which when combined with the nutrients for the joint help reduce friction in joint by lubricating them. Whenever, the joints are stretched beyond their normal range of movement, for example when lifting weights, the pressure inside the capsules will change, creating a vacuum effect, forming bubbles. When there is a change in pressure, the bubble collapse, and gas is released producing the cracking sound you experience in your joints.
Another similar theory suggests that when there is a movement of two bones, the attached tendons of the joint between the two bones can cause joint cracking and the feeling you experience when you crack a knuckle. Since, the tendons are in constant motion and their position changes every other minute, there are chances that the tendon may temporally snap back and drag across the bone. When they return to their original position, they will make a cracking sound. You may have experienced this when your knee rise from a sitting position or your neck when you happen to turn your head instantly. Loss of muscle mass, especially from aging, can hasten this effect since there are basically more bones exposed. Some scientists believe that some of the cracking sounds can be as a result of bone rubbing against each other where cartilage have been torn away.
People with osteoarthritis may experience more joint cracking when lifting weights or when exposed to intense exercise than individuals with no underlying medical conditions. It is worth noting that joint cracking is harmless, and has not been proven to exacerbate arthritis or lead to minor soft tissue problems contrary to popular beliefs. However, some research has shown that joint cracking can result in minor hand swelling on the hand hence weakening your grip when on a gym.
Is there a reason to be worried?
All these reasons may sound like joint cracking is potentially harmful, but scientists believe that joint cracking is not potentially harmful. This is basically a common problem and isn’t too much concern, especially when there is no pain attached. However, if cracking is accompanied by swelling, pain and numbness, then there are much reason for concern. If the joint get locked or kind of stuck, when it cracks, this may be an indication of a joint problem and should be evaluated immediately. If there is also a decreased motion in your joint, or there is a loss of joint function, then it’s highly recommended that you seek medical attention.
Taking care of your Joints
Some experts believe that when you crack your joint, there is a stimulation effect to your nervous system, which can lead to a relaxation response in the surrounding muscles. Other believe that cracking can help keep your joints from stiffening up, but that does not in any way imply that you should force a crack. Doing so very often can lead to long term damage to your joint tissue and can easily destabilize lower back and other areas that support your body. It is fine when the joint crack on their own, but it would be best if you leave forces cracking to the osteopath or an experienced chiropractor.
It is also important that you maintain or achieve an appropriate body weight to lessen the pressure to the joint. This can only be achieved when you observe proper or healthy eating habits as you involve yourself with regular but low impact exercises. Such exercise will not only minimise chances of joint injury but will also strengthen muscles that support the joint.