August 24

Are My Noisy Joints Normal?

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Creaky or loud joints worrying you? Read this.

Some days you move like a well oiled machine, and other days you may find your body creaks
more than the floorboards of a century old house. Often times people are quite concerned about
the strange noises their joints make and worry that it might be a sign of damage or harm to that
particular area. This a common phenomenon called joint crepitus.

Joint crepitus includes sounds and feelings described as clicking, grinding, popping and
clunking that occurs with joint movement. The bad news is that it can be annoying. The good
news is that most often it is nothing to worry about, and in fact can be a sign of a healthy,
well lubricated joint.

Crepitus can be the result of tendons or ligaments moving over bony
prominences, fluid movement within the joint and even small bubbles of air popping within the
joint. All of which, are normal.

What can I do about noisy joints?

Drumroll please! Ready?

Nothing.

(Or get some noise cancelling headphones if it really bothers you).

Keep moving and enjoying your beloved activities! Recent research has shown that noisy
knees have no relationship with function, physical activity levels, or pain with squatting or
climbing stairs
(2). What has been shown in the literature is that people with crepitus report
lower levels of self reported function and quality of life. What does this mean? Our perceptions
about noisy joints does not match our physical function and capability. So don’t worry about the
snap, crackle or pop and rest assured your joints are like 99% of the rest of the population.

Note: If joint noise becomes or is associated with redness, swelling, warmth or pain in the area,
please see your friendly neighbourhood physiotherapist for further assessment.

References:

  1. De Oliveira Silva, D., Barton, C., Crossley, K., Waiteman, M., Taborda, B., Ferreira, A.
    S., & Azevedo, F. M. (2018). Implications of knee crepitus to the overall clinical
    presentation of women with and without patellofemoral pain. Physical Therapy in Sport,
    33, 89-95.
  2. De Oliveira Silva, D., Pazzinatto, M. F., Priore, L. B., Ferreira, A. S., Briani, R. V.,
    Ferrari, D., Bazett-Jones, D., & Azevedo, F. M. (2018). Knee crepitus is prevalent in
    women with patellofemoral pain, but is not related with function, physical activity and
    pain. Physical Therapy in Sport, 33, 7-11.
  3. Pazzinatto, M. F., De Oliveira Silva, D., Azevedo, F. M., & Pappas, E. (2019). Knee
    crepitus is not associated with the occurrence of total knee replacement in knee
    osteoarthritis – a longitudinal study with data from the osteoarthritis initiative. Brazilian
    Journal of Physical Therapy, 23(4), 329-336.
  4. Pazzinatto, M. F., De Oliveira Silva, D., Faria, N. C., Simic, M., Ferreira, P. H., Azevedo,
    F. M., & Pappas, E. (2019). What are the clinical implications of knee crepitus to
    individuals with knee osteoarthritis? An observational study with data from the
    osteoarthritis initiative. Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy, 23(6), 491-496.
  5. Song, S. J., Park, C. H., Liang, H., & Kim, S. J. (2018). Noise around the knee. Clinics in
    Orthopedic Surgery, 10(1), 1.

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