Snap, Crackle, Pop

Nov
27
2020

There are several myths and superstitions surrounding cracking joints — we are here to uncover what is really happening when you hear that POP!

If you are one of the many that love to get that crack out of your joints, you most likely have also wondered if you are causing any damage to your joint surfaces. Most people feel momentary pain relief or even an increase in motion after feeling and hearing that pop occur.

What is the sound?

The medical term for this sought after the sound is crepitus and it actually occurs in two separate phases. The first phase occurs in the space between the two bony surfaces that are encapsulated in a synovial joint capsule which provides lubrication to the joint. When pulled apart, there is an increase in space between the bones and causes the intra-articular (space between the joint) pressure to drop. This creates a vacuum, allowing a bubble of various gasses to form from the synovial fluid. The second phase occurs when the gas bubble pops and the joint snaps back to its original position. The gasses will then dissolve within the synovial fluid which is why you cannot immediately “re-crack” the specific joint.

Is it harmful?

Harvard Health reports that while there appears to be no correlation between chronic knuckle crackers and arthritis, there may be a potential for damage to occur. There is not only an increase in joint laxity but also an increase in swelling and a decrease in grip strength (with knuckle cracking). Laxity is a term that is used to describe increased motion within a joint that causes instability. Without the proper stabilization and strengthening around this joint, dysfunction and pain can arise.

Bottom line 

There have been several studies supporting the lack of association between arthritis and joint cracking. However, other harmful effects that cause a lack of stability which can eventually lead to pain and injury can occur with chronic cracking. If you are having pain within any of your joints you can utilize direct access and call into SOCPT today to get back to that pain-free living! https://southocpt.com/ (949) 597-0007


DR. ALLISON PARIS
PT, DPT

Schedule an appointment today! Let’s talk. There’s no prescription required, and we try to have same-day appointments available. Call us at (949) 597-0007

SouthOCPT November 27, 2020

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