Crepitus – what’s the crack?

What is crepitus?

Crepitus is a medical term that is used to describe the popping, cracking grating or just plain creaky noises that sometimes occur when you move joints such as knees, elbows, wrists or ankles.

When your Chiropractor adjusts you it is often followed by a pop or crack. This is just synovial fluid being affected by pressure.

Crepitus is something different and can take different forms. In most cases, it is just the noise produced by air bubbles moving through the joints and is usually painless and therefore is not a cause for concern.

Causes of crepitus.

There may be lots of causes, but these include:

  • Bubbles of air popping inside the joint – this is the noise produced if you crack your knuckles and is painless.
  • Snapping of tendons or ligaments over the bony surfaces of the joints which can sometimes be painful.
  • Bones rubbing against each other, usually caused by arthritis – often a chronic (long-term) condition causing pain and discomfort.

Should I be concerned?

Look for these warning signs that signal the creaking, popping noises in your joints are more than just a gas bubble:

  • Cracking and popping that is accompanied by pain, stiffness and swelling.
  • Continuous cracking that occurs every time a particular movement is repeated.
  • Following an accident or surgery to the area.
  • Limited movement in the affected area.

What can your Chiropractor do to help?

It is a condition that becomes more common with age, and if the noises are accompanied by pain and discomfort it may be a sign of osteoarthritis,  it then becomes a big cause for concern as it is a signal of a larger problem!

Crepitus and its associated pain and stiffness can be treated in many ways. Your Chiropractor may suggest a low impact exercises regime, which will be important in restoring soft tissue, ligaments and tendons to help support the joints. This could be anything from walking, swimming and cycling, which can be extremely effective at reducing symptoms.

Chiropractic treatment can also reduce your dependence on over the counter pain killers by alleviating excessive strain on the body by restoring ideal posture and support.

Your Chiropractor  may advise the use of ice packs to help combat inflammation and the wearing of a support to allow the sensitive tissues to heal.

Depending on the situation your Chiropractor may also suggest lifestyle changes or nutritional supplements that can help preserve or rebuild cartilage.

If the condition is more along the joint misalignment route, chiropractic treatment will focus on re-aligning the affected joints, restoring function and mobility whilst reducing crepitus.

Deep tissue massage  or cross friction massage may also be recommended to speed up recovery.

To Summarise

Don’t worry too much about the occasional sound coming from your joints. Such sounds may, in fact, just be associated with aging.

The fact is that Chiropractic treatment may effectively ease the symptoms linked to this condition.

Remember If the noises are accompanied by pain, stiffness and swelling, call your Chiropractor for an appointment and let us here at Heale’s Clinics get you back on the road to recovery!

If you would like some further information or to speak to a member of our team please call us on: Hitchin 01462 420077 or Luton 01582 579687, alternatively e-mail us at: or .