Creaky Joints (Crepitus)

September 9, 2021

What is Crepitus? 

Crepitus is described as a grating, cracking, crunching, grinding, creaking or popping noise that occurs along with the movement of a joint. These sensations may be mildly uncomfortable but are largely pain-free. Crepitus can affect people of all ages but becomes more common as we begin to get older.


What Causes Crepitus? 

Crepitus may be caused for a variety of different reasons. Sometimes, these noises are completely harmless. Other times, these noises may be an indication of other issues that might exist within the joint. Typically, if there is an issue, it is not considered to be a serious health concern.


Common Causes Include:

  • Air bubbles popping within the joint. For example, cracking your knuckles.
  • Tendons or ligaments snapping over bony structures. This may cause slight pain or discomfort
  • Arthritis – this causes the cartilage (cushion between joints) to begin to deteriorate.


Where is Crepitus Most Common? 

Knees and other weight-bearing joints are the most common locations for crepitus. However, other joints such as the spine, shoulders, elbows, and wrists are other common places where these sensations may occur. 

When Should You See a Doctor?

This largely depends on the level of discomfort you are experiencing or the amount of time this issue has been persistent. A doctor might be able to make a more detailed assessment in regard to what might be causing the issue and to allow you to make the necessary adaptation to alleviate the symptoms.

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