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Notebook & News

Why Do I - Snap, Crackle and Pop?

What Are Those Noises?

Your body can make some unusual sounds! Hearing snapping, cracking or popping as you move often creates concern that there's something wrong. But is there?

You can experience different types of cracks or clicks:

Repeated Clicking

Repeated Clicking when you move a specific joint is likely an early sign of tendonitis. When the tendon becomes inflamed, it doesn’t glide over the surrounding tissues. There is a brief catch and then a click, as it jumps over the inflamed surface below. The sound is repeats when you repeat the movement. Usually there isn’t much discomfort associated with this sound, and as you continue the motion, the sound will go away as tissues warm up a bit and smooth out. Although this is not a concerning noise, it does indicate specific tightness that should be treated in clinic and as well as with specific home care suggested by your practitioner.


You might move and hear a click or Pop followed by the feeling of relief. This is similar to a Chiropractic adjustment. The pop is caused by the joint coming under pressure. The normal layer of gas that is found within the joint gets compressed into the joint fluid. At this stage, the joint feels stiff and doesn’t move well. When the joint releases, you hear the pop, which is that gas coming back out of the fluid… like a champagne cork popping. You experience better mobility and relief from discomfort or stiffness. As long as you are not using force to make this happen, this not a worry. In fact, if you have been in a lot of pain, this indicates that the injury is recovering!

Cracking or Popping With Pain

Noises that cause pain occur less frequently but are of more concern. If you bend over and feel or hear a cracking or popping noise followed by pain (especially in the back), you have experienced a true “bone out of place” situation. The noise seems to be a result of the joint sliding out of place. This is followed by pain and muscle spasm. The bone hasn’t dislocated… it has done what is called a subluxation. Relaxing the muscles around it and gently adjusting to get it back in place with proper mobility is the key to recovery. You want to get to your chiropractor as soon possible.

Clunking From An Arthritic Joint

Noises can come from an arthritic joint. There may be a succession of clunking sounds that happen when you get in a certain position. These may be painful but often are not. You will find that they are pretty loud. This happens when cartilage has deteriorated significantly and you are getting one bone rubbing on anther. If it is painful, it may require anti-inflammatory medication, supplements or ice to relieve the inflammation that is associated with arthritis. If there is no pain, you want to do some stretching that doesn’t put pressure on that joint, so you can “unload” the joint as much as possible. If you generally have no pain, it only requires some monitoring.

Learning what your body is trying to tell you with this symphony of sounds helps you take care of the root causes. In general, if your body is making sounds but you have no pain at that moment, it likely is not a major concern.

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