Don’t worry, you aren’t waking up with noisy joints because you are old or falling apart. Any number of factors can cause your joints to snap, crackle, and pop.
1. Gas Pockets
Anytime you choose to pop a joint (toes, neck, knuckles, etc.), you are most likely forcing out nitrogen bubbles that naturally form between the bones. Compressing the nitrogen releases gas and causes a cracking sound.
You may have been told that cracking your knuckles would enlarge your fingers or cause arthritis, but that simply isn’t true. Arthritis occurs naturally, although it does tend to run in families.
2. Tendons Rubbing
Sometimes, a snapping sound coming from your body is nothing more than your tendons rolling over your bones. It might mean that you are exercising a part of your body that doesn’t usually move a lot. With a little stretching, the sound should subside. It’s a good idea to stretch your muscles every morning and evening, paying special attention to areas that seem a little tight or noisy.
3. Lack of Lubrication
It may not be flattering but think of your body as a door with hinges everywhere. To function smoothly and quietly, the door’s hinges must be properly lubricated. In turn, the hinges can only be lubricated if the door is opened often enough to spread the lubricant. Your body’s muscle tendons and joints are surrounded by lubricant, but a lack of movement means the lubricant stays in one place. This results in your hinges “creaking,” particularly after long periods of rest or inactivity. Make sure you are sleeping comfortably at night to help your joints fully relax.
4. Worn Cartilage
Like anything else in life, your body’s cartilage wears down over time. Unfortunately, that might mean your bones are grinding together directly. Or, it might simply mean that the rough spots of the cartilage are rubbing together and creating a squeaking noise.
Are Noisy Joints a Bad Sign?
Keep in mind that even though your body is making noise, it isn’t necessarily trying to get your attention. Most doctors agree that joint sounds are common and nothing to worry about. Where you should begin listening to your body is when the snapping from your joints is joined by pain or inflammation. A painful joint that makes noise usually indicates a bigger problem than an unstretched muscle. Over time, as the cartilage wears down, a person may develop arthritis. Additionally, painful and noisy joints might indicate torn cartilage, broken or fractured bones, or a strained ligament. Cracking commonly occurs in knees, shoulders, hands, ankles, and hips.
How to Keep Your Joints from Making Noise
Pretty much everyone will experience noisy joints at some point in their life. However, the best way to prevent excessive snapping and popping is to stay active. Consistent exercise keeps your muscles and tendons stretched and lubricated. It’s a good idea to keep a daily fitness goal so that you can be sure to cover all of your major joints.