One of the most common questions that I am asked is the reason why people’s joints will seem to click or even crack throughout their body when they move.
There are a variety of reasons why you may experience this. Sometimes it is because you have air trapped in your joints, which is then released as you move. For other people you may find that your age, physical health and lifestyle choices could mean that you have some sort of arthritic changes within the joint, usually caused by general wear and tear.
One area of your body that you can see these clicks occurring is within your neck and your spine and whilst this can be concerning, so long as there is no pain when the clicking occurs, you don’t have to panic. They are just spontaneous cavitation's and it is the air making an escape from your joints.
That said, I know how concerning it can be to hear this noise, you may ask yourself is it normal? Is this supposed to happen? Have I damaged my body in some way when I hear this noise?
The answer is no
Even when it comes to your neck, you really don’t need to worry about hearing this particular type of noise (with no pain). It is just your body creaking and groaning as you move it into another position. Just like a machine that has been stuck in one position for an extended period of time.
This noise happening every now and then may not be anything to worry about, however, if it is happening on a regular basis, perhaps every single day or every time you move that particular joint. Then you might want to take a closer look. When this happens, it could mean that the joint is unstable, that there is a problem within it and that it needs to be looked at by a professional. They will be able to tell you more about the issue and then perhaps recommend exercise that is going to help you to strengthen that joint and make sure that the clicking noise goes away.
What happens if I don’t get help?
We are all guilty of ignoring any problems that we have and hoping that they will go away. However, with is particular issue, if you do ignore it then you could actually cause yourself an injury in the long-term. This is especially true if you are someone who exercises frequently or if you run.
Not only can exercise cause a problem, but a lack of exercise can too. If you are sat at a desk all day, then you may end up causing yourself an anterior head posture. This can put pressure on your neck, which means that you will feel wear and tear and discomfort long before you are supposed to have these kind of problems.
The thing to remember, if you are clicking on a regular basis and you are experiencing pain with it, then you should make sure that you head to a professional and get yourself diagnosed. Not only can they help you to figure out what is wrong, but they can also recommend ways to make it better in the short and the long term too.
Written by Anisha Joshi B.Ost.Med ND DO