Do you wake up most mornings with your joints cracking and popping? Don’t worry! The good news is that it doesn’t mean you are old or falling apart. Many factors can cause your joints to snap, crackle, and pop. Following are just a few reasons you might have noisy joints.

1. Gas Pockets

Anytime you 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 heard the old wives’ tale 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 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 gentle 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 tight or noisy.

3. Lack of Lubrication

It may not be flattering, but imagine 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 a lubricant called synovial fluid. However, 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, your body’s cartilage wears down over time. Unfortunately, that might mean your bones are grinding together. 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?

Remember that even though your body makes 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 swelling. A painful joint that makes noise usually indicates a bigger problem than just 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 the 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.

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