Home > Exercise, Nutrition & Well Being > Snap Crackle And Popping Joints

Snap Crackle And Popping Joints

November 17, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

If you’ve ever jumped out of bed in the morning and hurriedly jaunted toward the bathroom or coffee maker, you’ve no doubt heard a few cracking, popping noises coming from your bones. Maybe it comes from your ankles, feet or knees. Stretch out your arms, and you’ll likely hear it from your wrists or elbows. Believe it or not, the crackle sound is not actually coming from your bones. The truth is that nothing is being cracked.

A joint is where the ends of 2 bones meet. Where the bones come together they have a covering of “articular cartilage.” This is surrounded by the “joint capsule,” inside of which there is synovial fluid. Synovial fluid is the lubricant for the joint and also serves as a source of nutrients for the cells that look after the cartilage. Synovial fluid has dissolved oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide within it. When the right pressure is applied to a joint, the area inside the joint capsule expands. Synovial fluid cannot expand unless pressure inside the joint capsule drops and the dissolved gases can escape out of the fluid. This process of cavitation that causes the cracking sound comes from the gases rapidly being released from the fluid in the form of bubbles. Thia accounts for the “popping” sound.


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Many people associate the sounds with old age or arthritis. However, cracking joints isn’t restricted to older people or those with orthopedic problems. Cracking in joints is also heard coming from healthy young people and can occur for a variety of reasons. There is some evidence that with age the cartilage starts to deteriorate, leading to the cracking sound when squatting or moving a joint quickly. This usually does not require treatment if it’s not associated with significant pain or stiffness, but could be a sign of early joint problems. When cracking of joints occurs frequently along with stiffness, pain, or tenderness, it could be an indication of osteoarthritis. Exercise to help strengthen muscles along with rest, ice, and anti inflammatory medications usually can help improve the condition. In severe cases, physical therapy may be needed. Assisted Living Facilities and nursing homes have specialized physical therapists as a part of their staff to help seniors with these issues.

Some people stretch and intentionally try to crack their joints. Just about everyone has probably known a compulsive knuckle cracker or neck popper. There is evidence of increased mobility in joints right after popping. When joints are manipulated, the Golgi tendon organs (a set of nerve endings involved in humans’ motion sense) are stimulated and the muscles surrounding the joint are relaxed. This is part of the reason why people can feel “loose” and invigorated after leaving a chiropractor’s office, where cavitation is induced as part of the treatment. Backs, knees, elbows and all other movable joints are subject to the same kind manipulation as knuckles are. Seniors residing in Assisted Living and Nursing Homeshave specialized care to deal with their arthritic pain and joint problems so they can experience increased ease of mobility while carrying out their day to day activities.

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for health care provisions such as Home Care, Home Health, Skilled Nursing, Hospice Care, Medical Supplies, as well as a variety of Assisted Living Chicago and Care Homes nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

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