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  • Writer's pictureDr. Lucas Marchand

Unlocking the Mystery of Joint Sounds: What Your Body's Snaps, Cracks, and Pops Really Mean

Have you ever wondered why your body makes those strange noises when you move? You know the ones—snaps, cracks, and pops that seem to come out of nowhere. As a chiropractor, I hear these concerns from patients all the time. Today, I'm diving into the fascinating world of joint sounds to demystify what causes them and what they could mean for your health.


Joint Pain


 

The Snap: Tendons and Bones in Action


When you hear a snap in your body, it's often due to tendons moving over bony protuberances. Imagine your knee as you bend and straighten it. The patellar tendon slides over your kneecap (patella), and sometimes this movement creates a snapping sound. It's like a rubber band snapping against your skin.


Meet Sarah

Sarah, a 35-year-old avid runner, noticed a snapping sensation in her ankle whenever she flexed her foot. Concerned, she visited myself, and I explained that her peroneal tendons were likely snapping over the bony protrusion on the outside of her ankle. By adjusting her running technique and incorporating specific stretches, Sarah was able to reduce the snapping and improve her ankle's flexibility.


Running Athletic Women

 

The Clunk: Bony Outgrowths and Joint Impingement


A clunking sound in your joints can be more alarming. This often occurs when bony outgrowths, such as bone spurs or osteophytes, rub together or impinge upon each other during movement. This friction can produce a noticeable clunk or thunk sound.


John's Journey

John, a 50-year-old office worker, experienced a clunking sound in his shoulder whenever he reached overhead. We identified that years of poor posture had led to bone spurs on his shoulder joint. With targeted adjustments and rehabilitative exercises, John was able to reduce the clunking and regain pain-free mobility in his shoulder.


Office Space

 

The Crackle: Degenerative Joint Disease and Crepitus


Crepitus—a crackling or grating sensation—can occur when joints are affected by degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis. As the smooth cartilage within joints wears down over time, the roughened surfaces of bones can rub together during movement, creating a crackling sound.


Lisa's Story

Lisa, a 60-year-old retiree, noticed a crackling sound in her knees whenever she climbed stairs. We diagnosed her with osteoarthritis, which had caused cartilage loss in her knee joints. Through a combination of gentle adjustments, targeted exercises, and nutritional guidance, Lisa managed her symptoms effectively and improved her knee function.


Physiotherapy

 

What Can You Do About It?


If you experience these joint sounds and they're accompanied by pain, swelling, or reduced mobility, it's essential to consult a healthcare professional—like a chiropractor—who can assess your condition and recommend appropriate treatment options.


  1. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to when and where you hear these sounds. Keeping a journal can help you track patterns and identify triggers.

  2. Stay Active: Regular exercise can help maintain joint flexibility and strength. Low-impact activities like swimming or yoga are excellent choices for joint health.

  3. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess weight puts added stress on your joints, which can contribute to joint noises and exacerbate conditions like arthritis.

  4. Consider Chiropractic Care: Chiropractors are trained to assess musculoskeletal conditions and can provide treatments such as adjustments, rehabilitative exercises, and lifestyle advice to support joint health.

Healthy Salad
 

The Bottom Line

Joint sounds—whether they're snaps, cracks, or pops—can be unsettling, but they're not always a cause for alarm. Understanding the underlying causes, such as tendon movement, bony outgrowths, or degenerative changes, can empower you to take proactive steps towards joint health.


Remember, your body communicates with you through these sounds. By listening attentively and seeking professional guidance when needed, you can maintain optimal joint function and enjoy a life filled with movement and vitality.

So, the next time your knee snaps or your shoulder clunks, don't panic—your body might just be reminding you to take care of it a little better!


Have a wonderful week,


Dr. Lucas Marchand


Portrait of Dr. Lucas Marchand

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