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Noisy Joints: When Are They A Concern?

The joints in our body are amazing, albeit a little scary. They come in different shapes, sizes, forms and perform similar but slightly different functions.

Take the hip joint for example, which is held together by a complicated maze of tendons, ligaments, and muscles – The femoral head which is the part of the femur acts as the ball in the socket of the pelvis. The hip joint is so complex that quite often the femoral head will catch on surrounding fibrous tissue. More often than not this is nothing to be concerned about, which leaves us the question,

When Are Noisy Joints A Concern?

Identifying noisy joints that could be a reason for concern isn’t all that easy. First and foremost, look for accompanying pain with any click or grind, particularly loud or low pitched noises which could be a sign of a dislocation or something more sinister.

Particular Things To Look Out For With Noisy Joints

Repetitive Clicks

These can sometimes indicate that certain connective tissues are out of alignment or possibly damaged. It can also come from the misalignment of large nerves, or other body parts.

Depending if there is pain or not, this usually isn’t a reason for concern. If there is no pain, it may just be a case of a good adjustment and regular stretching. If there is accompanying pain however it may be a sign of a dislocation.

Loud Rips Or Tears

Rips and tears are perhaps the most concerning and are typically associated with pulled, popped or torn muscles and tendons. Sudden, loud rips and tears, accompanied by bruising and swelling are the reason for immediate treatment.  Rips and tears are commonly experienced with pulled hamstrings, calves and lower leg muscles or tendons operating at a high intensity.

Pops Or Clunks

Probably the rarest, a loud clunk or feeling of something sliding or shifting can result in various outcomes. Often they are serious, people suffering ACL injuries usual report a clunk or shift feeling.

These pop and clunks can also be harmless, they are thought to occur when the fluid-filled sac within your joints gets stretched by a sudden change in position. The resulting pressure and volume change cause gases dissolved in the fluid to form bubbles.

Rubbing And Grinding

Rubbing or grinding noises can be a sign of damaged inflamed cartilage. When cartilage deteriorates it creates a rough surface and can even leave parts of bone exposed. When the rough surfaces or exposed parts of bone rub against each other this causes Arthritis. Reversing or even slowing the cartilage degeneration associated with Arthritis is very difficult and rubbing, grinding and even popping noises may become more common.

It is recommended that you consult with a health professional if you have persistent and painful rubbing and grinding.

So Is Knuckle Cracking Bad for You?

The age-old knuckle cracking debate – Is it bad for you?

Most will be pleased to know, according to recent evidence that knuckle cracking is absolutely harmless.

With any sudden movement a joint will be subject to some ‘stress’, not bad stress, but stress in general, the joint is performing its primary job. Often this means a little crack or pop like we notice with knuckle cracking, which ironically is a great example for noisy joints in other parts of the body.

This is called Cavitation – Cavitation results from a change in joint pressure that allows carbon dioxide, which is normally dissolved in your joint fluid (synovial fluid) to come out of the solution and form gas bubbles in the joint. This creates a small cavity in the joint, and when the cavity closes quickly, the bubble essentially pops and makes the familiar cracking noise.

Noisy Joints – Why Do My Hips Or Knees Crack When I Squat?

In most scenarios, this is a classic case of cavitation and unless it is accompanied by pain, there is no reason to be concerned.  There are some cases in which a health professional may suggest squatting is not for you (due to genetic makeup), but this, however, is rare.

Can Noisy Joints Actually Be A Good Thing?

Strangely enough, body adjustments and subluxations performed by health professionals are basically cavitations. The idea is that once the joint is opened up the synovial fluids re-lubricate the joint surfaces and normal motion is restored. While popping joints or professional subluxations are always best performed by a professional, if you happen to be performing an exercise and hear a pop, with no pain, it could actually be beneficial.

More to the point, it is thought that a popping joint releases natural painkillers called endogenous opiates.

For more information on general health and well-being, noisy joints or to book an appointment, contact us on (03) 9369 9766.

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