Joint Cracking

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The symptom of joint cracking is described differently by different people while nevertheless representing the same condition. Various descriptions for the same process include "popping," "exploding," "noise," "snapping," and "creaking" of a joint. The cause of joint cracking depends on a number of conditions. Situational information that is essential in detecting the cause of joint popping includes whether it a singular episode of sounds coming from the joint or if it is a repeatable, recurrent event.

Joint popping that occurs once only is often a result of sudden trauma to the joint. Such causes of joint popping include ligament strain or ligament tear, tendon strain or tendon tear (tendon rupture), broken bone (fracture), and joint dislocation.

Joint popping that occurs repeatedly, sometimes intentionally, can be caused by harmless events, such as knuckle cracking or snapping of a tendon over a protruding bony prominence. Repeated joint popping can also be caused by conditions that represent more serious joint status, such as a cartilage tear from a torn meniscus or degenerated cartilage from osteoarthritis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/21/2012

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REFERENCE:

Klippel, J.H., et al. Primer on the Rheumatic Diseases. New York: Springer, 2008.

Causes of Joint Cracking
    • Broken Bone (Types of Bone Fractures) A broken bone is a fracture. There are different types of fractures such as compressed, open, stress, greenstick, spiral,...learn more »
      In This Article
      Broken Bone (Types of Bone Fractures) Article
      • What is a broken bone (fracture)?
      • What causes a broken bone?
      • What are the most common types of broken bones?
      • Compression fracture
      • Skull fracture
      • Stress fracture
      • What are the most common bones that are broken?
      • Broken hand or fingers
      • Broken wrist
      • Broken hip
      • Broken leg
      • Broken toe
      • Broken shoulder
      • What are the signs and symptoms of a broken bone?
      • When should I call a doctor if I think I have broken a bone?
      • How is a broken bone diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for a broken bone?
      • What about surgery for a broken bone?
      • How can fractures be prevented?
      • What is the prognosis for a broken bone?
    • Dislocated Shoulder The shoulder is the most often dislocated joint in the body due to its mobility. Dislocation occurs when the head of the humerus...learn more »
      In This Article
      Dislocated Shoulder Article
      • Shoulder dislocation facts
      • What is dislocation of the shoulder? What causes a shoulder dislocation?
      • What are the symptoms and signs of a dislocated shoulder?
      • How do physicians diagnose dislocated shoulders?
      • What is the treatment for a dislocated shoulder?
      • What happens after reduction of a shoulder dislocation?
      • What is appropriate follow-up following a shoulder dislocation?
      • What are potential complications of a shoulder dislocation?
    • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Ehlers-Danlos syndromes are genetic disorders that include symptoms such as loose joints, tissue weakness, easy bruising, and...learn more »
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      Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Article
      • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome facts
      • What is Ehlers-Danlos syndrome?
      • What are the types of Ehlers-Danlos syndromes?
      • What are symptoms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome?
      • How are Ehlers-Danlos syndromes diagnosed?
      • How are Ehlers-Danlos syndromes treated?
    • Hypermobility Syndrome The joint hypermobility syndrome is a condition in which the joints easily move beyond the normal range expected for a particular...learn more »
      In This Article
      Hypermobility Syndrome Article
      • Hypermobility syndrome facts
      • What is the joint hypermobility syndrome?
      • What causes joint hypermobility syndrome?
      • What are the symptoms and signs of joint hypermobility?
      • How is joint hypermobility syndrome diagnosed?
      • How is hypermobility syndrome treated?
      • Can joint hypermobility syndrome be prevented?
      • What is the outlook (prognosis) for those affected by joint hypermobility syndrome?
    • Osteoarthritis Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis caused by inflammation, breakdown, and eventual loss of cartilage in the joints. Also...learn more »
      In This Article
      Osteoarthritis Article
      • Osteoarthritis facts
      • What is osteoarthritis?
      • What causes osteoarthritis?
      • What are osteoarthritis symptoms and signs?
      • How is osteoarthritis diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for osteoarthritis?
      • "If I have minimal or no symptoms with early signs of osteoarthritis, what should I do?"
      • What is the prognosis (outlook) for patients with osteoarthritis?
      • Can osteoarthritis be prevented?
      • What does the future hold for osteoarthritis?
      • Where can people get more information about osteoarthritis?
    • Osteochondritis Dissecans With osteochondritis dissecans, bone and its adjacent cartilage loses its blood supply. Though osteochondritis dissecans can...learn more »
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      Osteochondritis Dissecans Article
      • Osteochondritis dissecans facts
      • What is osteochondritis dissecans?
      • What causes osteochondritis dissecans?
      • What are symptoms of osteochondritis dissecans?
      • How is osteochondritis dissecans diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment of osteochondritis dissecans?
      • What is the prognosis of osteochondritis dissecans?
      • Can osteochondritis dissecans be prevented?
    • Sprains and Strains An injury to a ligament is called a sprain, and an injury to muscle or tendon is called a strain. Sprains and strains may be...learn more »
      In This Article
      Sprains and Strains Article
      • Muscle sprains and strains facts
      • What is the difference between a sprain and a strain?
      • What causes a sprain or strain?
      • Where do sprains and strains usually occur?
      • What are sprain symptoms and signs?
      • How are sprains and strains diagnosed?
      • How are sprains and strains treated?
      • What is the recovery time for sprains and strains?
      • Can sprains and strains be prevented?
      • What is the prognosis of sprains and strains?
      • Where can people find more information about sprains and strains?
    • Torn ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear) The anterior cruciate ligament helps to prevent the top and bottom of the knee from sliding back and forth. Symptoms and signs of...learn more »
      In This Article
      Torn ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear) Article
      • Torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) facts
      • What is the function of the knee joint?
      • What is a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)?
      • What causes a torn ACL?
      • What are symptoms and signs of a torn ACL?
      • How is a torn ACL diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for a torn ACL?
      • How long does it take to recover from a torn ACL?
      • What is the prognosis of a torn ACL?
      • Can ACL tears be prevented?
    • Torn Meniscus A torn meniscus (knee cartilage) may be caused by suddenly stopping, sharply twisting, or deep squatting or kneeling when lifting...learn more »
Examples of Medications for Joint Cracking



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