If Your Joints Pop and Crack, Don’t Worry– It’s Normal

If you’re one of those people who constantly need to pop your knuckles, roll your neck, or bend your elbow until you hear that satisfying crack, you’re not alone! A lot of people enjoy cracking their joints. In fact, 25-54% of people crack their knuckles. This action always comes with a stern warning from others – “Don’t do that, or you’ll get arthritis!” But not to worry, those popping sounds you hear aren’t bad. According to Dr. Aman Dhawan, an orthopedic sports medicine specialist from Penn State Health’s Milton Hershey Medical Center, it is completely normal for joints to make those noises.

The Cause of Popping

So, what does cause the noises? Well, there are a few reasons why. For instance, soft tissues, such as tendons and ligaments, move against other tissues and bones, resulting in a crackling sound. In a Penn State press release, Dhawan said that since “our joints are mobile… there is the potential for anatomy to intersect.” Popping may also occur due to pockets of nitrogen gas trapped between the joints. Essentially, your body will naturally produce fluid to fill and lubricate joints and provide nutrition to the cartilage. Thus occasionally resulting in the fluid creating air pockets that pop when released.

When Should I Be Concerned?

While some of the pops can sound really scary, the only time to be concerned is if popping accompanies pain and swelling. So, fear not. The popping sounds do not mean you have arthritis. Contrary to popular belief, cracking your joints does not cause swelling and arthritis.

However, if the popping is still causing you concern, the doctors at Hershey Medical Center advise stretching, strength exercises, and low-impact exercises like swimming. Furthermore, it is wise to maintain a healthy weight to avoid additional stress on the joints.

“There is good data to support getting rid of excess weight because it does improve pain in the joints of the lower extremities, as well as decreases your risk of getting arthritis or having it progress,” Dhawan said. “The joints carry the weight of our bodies, so the less stress you put on them, the longer they will stay healthy,” he added.

In Conclusion

So, while your knuckles or neck may irritate and even gross out nearby listeners, there is no evidence proving cracking damages joints. However, if you begin noticing swelling and pain, make an appointment to see your doctor. The best way to prepare for medical expenses is by contacting an agent today and enrolling in a health insurance plan that meets your needs!

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We hope that this information on healthy joints is helpful to you.

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This article was updated on 6/20/2024.

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