bones crack

Why Do Bones Crack and Why Does it Feel Good

We’ve all experienced that cracking noise that can sometimes come from joints or bones. For some it’s a cracking sensation, for others it may feel like a snap or a pop.

Most of us don’t feel any pain from bone ‘cracking’, it’s just a part of our bodies, and a part of our joints and ligaments. In fact, for many of us – we might like the feeling! For lots of people, the ‘cracking’ or ‘popping’ can help to temporarily relieve pain, and might even help relieve tension in the area too.

Whilst in the past people would scare others by saying that bone cracking led to conditions such as arthritis, nothing as such has been scientifically proven yet, and is unlikely to be.

Lots of joints in the body can crack and pop – but the most common tend to be:

  • Knuckles,
  • Fingers,
  • Knees,
  • Hips,
  • Toes,
  • Neck,
  • Back.

Whilst most of the time, you’ll experience the bone cracking sensation at home or on your own, it is possible to pay a professional to strategically crack and align your joints. This tends to be most popular with the neck and back, and is often performed by chiropractors.

Cracking your fingers or toes at home is relatively risk free, but you should never attempt to crack your neck or back at home or by yourself. Yes, a cracked back can help ease pain and tension – but your neck and back (because of the complexity of the joints and bones) need to be treated by a professional in these cases.

Should I Be Worried if My Bones Crack a Lot?

It might be a little worrying if you’re constantly hearing your bones crack, but rest assured, it’s relatively normal. As long as it’s not causing you any discomfort or pain, then it’s not usually something to be concerned about.

Do consider swelling or redness though – because if either of these things accompanies the cracking, then you might want to visit a doctor and get yourself looked at properly.

Just approach the cracking with a sense of instinct. If you’re feeling pain of discomfort from it, then something might be wrong. If your joints don’t look regular, then something might be wrong.

What Causes the ‘Cracking’ Noise?

It’s important to understand that when your joints make that cracking sound it’s not actually your bones cracking or splitting. The cracking just refer to sound it makes, not the actual action or cause.

There are a few reasons your body might be making those cracking sounds though – and you can read about them below:

Escaping gases: Probably the most common cause of this noise is the gas bubbles escaping from your joints and making little popping sounds. The gas comes from the fluid in your joints (which is there to help keep joints moving smoothly and pain free).

Movement of joints, tendons and ligaments: When you move any joint in your body, it’ll affect the ligaments and tendons around (big or small). When a position changes, you might hear a snapping sound as the tendon or ligament returns to its proper place. This noise is most common in ankle and knees, and the lower half of the body.

Loss of cartilage: In people with arthritis, their joints tend to be louder than those without. This is often due to a lack of cartilage, which means the bones are rubbing together more and thus, making more noise. This cause tends to be present in a lot of older people, as cartilage naturally lessens with age, regardless or arthritis or not.

Why Does it Feel Good?

When bones crack it feels good because in most cases the cracking or popping noise has relieve tension from the surrounding muscle, tendons or ligaments. It’s similar to having a good stretch in the morning – your body is adjusting and relaxing into a new position.

How Can I Stop my Bones from Cracking?

Some people may feel self conscious about the cracking noises, and may want to look at improving it.

The best tip for this, is to get moving and exercising. As well as strengthening your muscles. It’s not a guaranteed method of stopping the cracking noises, but it can help and you may see an improvement, especially if the noises are bothering you.

David Phillips

David Phillips BSc (Hons) Chiropractic, DC, LRCC Chiropractor. vid has been qualified since 2002 and has been in continuous private practice since then in London. He is a member of the British Chiropractic Association, registered with the General Chiropractic Council, is a Licentiate of the Royal College of Chiropractors and is widely recognised by health insurance companies.

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