Why Do Joints ‘POP’?

Blausen_0597_KneeAnatomy_SideWhy Do Joints ‘POP’?

Whenever we join our fingers together and stretch them, do some knee bending or weight lifting our joints ‘pop’ or ‘snap’ and we hear some sort of ‘crackling’ sound. Now why is that?

First of all, I am not a doctor nor am I a medical student but I have done my research and here’s what I got. There are a few major reasons why our joints emit those ‘popping’ sounds.

First is because of its structure. Joints are two intersecting bones. It is surrounded with different parts like tissues and ligaments, muscles and tendons which support bone movement, a padding of cartilage and a thick clear liquid called the synovial fluid to lubricate the joint. According to scientists, gas is released whenever you stretch the joint beyond its normal limit. The increasing pressure inside the joint produces bubbles within the gases dissolved in the synovial fluid. When the bubble collapses due to change in pressure, gas is immediately released producing a ‘popping’ sound inside the joints.

Second, is the joint movement. This usually happens to sports people. During their daily exercise routine, they hear their joints ‘pop’. In this case, the popping of joints involves the slight change in their position. Tendons ‘snap’ whenever they return to their original position. Tight ligaments ‘snap’ as you begin to use them. This case usually happens in the knees and ankles.

Third, loss of cartilage smoothness. The cartilage serves as padding for the joint. As long as they are smooth the joint moves just fine but when they are not, the joint surface gets rough or damaged and they produce a noisy grinding or ‘popping’ sound due to friction between the two intersecting bones. This is commonly known as ‘Arthritic Joint’. Compared to normal crackling, this is painful and often occurs during old age.

In conclusion, the crackling or popping sound that we hear in our joints can be harmless if we feel no pain and if it involves a daily routine or exercise, if in case you feel any pain I suggest you consult with your doctor immediately.

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