Here’s What Your Cracking Joints Really Means


Are you constantly hearing your joints cracking lately? This may be something you didn’t notice in your younger years. But you may have the trouble of your joints cracking repeatedly throughout the day as you have gotten a few years older. This could be a few simple cracks with just one part of your body throughout the day. Or it could be as frequent as cracking joints all over your body as you move from different positions all day. At this point, you may be wondering if you should be concerned about this new onset of joints cracking. Sometimes these popping of joints can be relieving, and other times it may leave you with a little discomfort. So is this something you should be worried about? Read on to learn what it really means when your joints crack.

The popping noise you hear when you move your joints is called crepitus, which means “rattle” in Latin, according to Healthline. While it may sound a little strange, experts say that it is actually a natural part of life.

“The older you get, the more noise your joints can make, because some of your cartilage wears away as part of the normal aging process,” said orthopedic surgeon Kim L. Stearns, MD. “Then these surfaces get a little rougher and so you get more noise as they rub against each other.”

There’s also another aspect of joint popping that is not as catastrophic as society has all believed. When we intentionally crack our knuckles or joints, it has been widely accepted that this can cause arthritis. But Healthline also reports that this is not accurate.

The cracking of joints is normal for the most part. But there are some instances where the popping can actually be cause for concern. Whether you are cracking your knuckles or the popping is naturally occurring, this can be concerning if you begin to feel pain during the process. “If there’s pain, you may have an injury than that requires treatment,’ Dr. Stearns said. This may happen as the normal aging process continues, which can be a sign of arthritis. But even experts say that some level of arthritis is natural as we age. But if there is noticeable pain, then it’s time to possibly see a doctor.

Your joints could be cracking also as a result of muscle movement, which is totally natural. It can also be due to bubbles or cavities that can form in synovial fluid. This fluid contains nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide to make sure your bones have substantial cushioning. When those bubbles pop within the synovial fluid, this is when you hear the popping noise.

Another reason your joints may pop could be due to exercising. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but can indicate that you need to stretch more. Repeated popping during exercise means that your muscles are tight and need stretching. So to alleviate that, just be sure to incorporate more stretching or yoga practice into your more strenuous workouts.

The final reason that your joints could be overly popping is just a lack of activity. This can happen when we become less active, which may be why excessive joint popping seems to correlate with aging – even when it is not related to arthritis or injury. This is because as we get older, it is natural to move less. And Dr. Stearns says that less activity is the reason we have increased joint popping. We say motion is lotion – the more you move, the more your body lubricates itself,” Dr. Stearns noted. “When you’ve been sitting or lying around, fluid in the joints doesn’t move. The more active you are, the more your joints lubricate themselves.”

The easy answer to this is just moving more. Finding some daily activity to incorporate is a great way to give your joints some much-needed lubrication. You can try yoga, walking, or stretching as a beginning to a more active and healthy lifestyle.