Chiropractor assessing client joint pain in elbow
Having a popping sound when you stretch or manipulate joints is common, but what causes joints to crack, and can it be potentially harmful to your body. There are many old wives’ tales as to what causes your joints to pop and what the long-term effects could be. However, as science has studied exactly what causes joint cracking the reason as to why it occurs has become clearer. In this article, we will explore exactly why joint crack as well as any potential damage that it can cause. We will also provide advice on what you can do if joint cracking begins to cause you pain, including managing back pain and neck pain caused by cracking. 

Why Do Joints Pop or Crack? 

Before getting into the actual science as to what causes joints to crack it is important to shine a spotlight on some of the theories that were thrown around as to what joint cracking involved. Some theories include the idea that it is your bones rubbing together and creating a clicking sound or that it is arthritis being developed and escaping from between your joints. In reality, there are a few reasons as to why your joints may crack. 
The most common joints to crack are your fingers and knuckles, your neck, ankles and wrists. The science between joint cracking can be attributed to gases escaping, general joint, tendon or ligament movement or some rough surfaces in your body. 
The most common of these causes is the gases escaping. In your joints is a fluid called synovial fluid. This acts as a lubricant for your joints, and contains oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. When you stretch your joints, such as rolling your wrists and pulling your fingers, these gases are released from between your joints and will create a cracking or popping sound. This explains why you can only crack your knuckles once before having to wait. This waiting period is giving your knuckles time to rejuvenate the gases in the synovial fluid. Whilst this is the most common reason, there are other things that could be an answer as to why do joints pop or crack. 
Pain in woman's wrist

Can Cracking Joints Cause Damage? 

Now you know what causes joints to crack, does it cause issues? It is often said that constantly cracking joints, especially your knuckles, can lead to damage being done to both your joints and soft tissue surrounding your joints. But can cracking joints cause damage? Or is it all a big story? One of the most common ailments that are linked to cracking your joints is arthritis. There is no scientific proof that cracking your joints leads to arthritis, however, constantly cracking your knuckles or any joints could lead to some soft tissue damage. Any form of repetitive strain can lead to issues such as weakening of joints and muscles or swelling. But what should you do if you begin to feel pain through joint cracking? 
Cracking joint in man's wrist

What to do if cracking joints causes pain 

If you begin to experience pain following the cracking of joints then you should consider getting in touch with us today. Some slight pain in the hands is to be expected following cracking of joints, but you experience pain elsewhere such as in the back, you will really benefit from having a trained professional taking a look at it for you. There are many common causes of back pain, but repetitive cracking could be one of the less well-known reasons you experience pain. Chiropractic treatment can not only help with any pain that you are experiencing, but it can also help to prevent any further issues with back cracking. Chiropractors are experts at knowing what causes joints to crack and will be able to answer your question of why do joints pop or crack. They will also be able to provide you with advice as to how to avoid damage from cracking joints in the future. 
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