Why do my joints click?

knee pain dublin

Commonly within PhysioCare, patients present with lots of concern and worry with regards to clicking and grating of joints within their body.

A patient’s belief system can often lead to altered behavior which has a negative impact upon their quality of life and daily function and ultimately the condition of their joints and muscles. This post sets out to address this misconception in a clear and concise manner.

From an evidence stand point, there is no literature that has effectively correlated audible noises within the body to a pathology. In other words, the point in case of your folks asking you to stop cracking knuckles as a child, in fear of attaining early osteoarthritis is an old wife’s tale.

For the vast majority of people whom experience and present with clicking of joints, there is no need to be alarmed. This clicking noise is also known as crepitus within the world of physiotherapy.

However, should one present with pain and/or loss of function in conjunction with these audible noises, it is imperative to speak to a health care professional for a clinical assessment of the joint(s) involved. Chartered Physiotherapists within PhysioCare can effectively assess and treat these presentations which some patient specific stretching exercises and a tailored strengthening regime.

What actually causes the noise?

There are two primary reasons why this noise will present.

Often, the noises that present can be attributed to extra-articular structures (muscles) moving across bony prominence’s. These can often be found within the hip, knee and forehand/thumb region

Conversely, within the joint, a clicking noise may present. This is a theory known as cavitation. There is a vacuum created between two joint spaces as they move apart. This leads to the synovial fluid be displaced and as a consequence there is often an audible pop heard.

Science will again tell us that this detectable clamour is not associated with the onset of osteoarthritis.

In closing, these noises, without pain, should be embraced as they are a sign of a well lubricated and fully functioning joint. As we say in clinic, ‘motion is lotion…”

Stay good, stay moving.


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