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Snap, crackle, pop: what you need to know about noisy joints

Ankles, knees, hips, wrists, elbows, shoulders, necks and backs can make alarming noises throughout the day which can be unnerving, but this is not normally a cause for concern if they are painless. There are three common causes of noises within the joints:

1. Air Bubbles

Synovial fluid protects and lubricates your joints to allow for smooth and easy mobility, but with time, nitrogen gas bubbles can get trapped in the joints and produce a painless snap, crackle or pop sound when they are released during certain movements. You may notice these noises increase as you get older but they are both common and very normal.

2. Ligaments or tendons

The position of the ligaments, tendons and muscles alters when a joint moves. They can make a snapping sensation or sound when they pass over a bony protrusion within the joint and return back to their original position.

3. Natural wear and tear

General wear and tear on the joints and loss of smooth cartilage means the bones can rub together on a rougher, more unstable surface making a creaking sound when moving.

Noisy joints are annoying, but there are ways which you can help:

1. Motion is lotion

The synovial fluid that lubricates the joints moves around more when you move more. Your joints are more prone to groan if you spend the majority of the day sitting down. Strengthening and stretching exercises will help improve mobility and reduce tightness, resulting in less noisy joints.

2. Eat healthy, stay healthy

Eating nourishing foods and maintaining a healthy weight will help to increase bone strength and reduce any added pressure on your joints. This can help with pain, inflammation and your noisy joints.

3. Every sip counts

Up to 60% of the body is made up of water. If we are dehydrated, the production of synovial fluid surrounding joints is reduced and therefore, our movement may be more noisy or restricted.

If any of these noises are accompanied by pain, swelling, loss of motion, weakness or are resulting from an injury, you may benefit from speaking to your GP or Harbourside Physiotherapy so we can have a look.

For further advice, assessment & treatment, please contact us at Harbourside Physiotherapy.

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