why does my back make cracking noises

WeБve all experienced it: Knees that snap when we stand up, a neck that cracks when we turn our head and ankles that pop when we rotate them. Often, joint cracking can be loud Б and perhaps a little disconcerting. ItБs no wonder that many people think there might be something wrong with their joints when they hear them pinging away. Creaking and snapping joints might be annoying, but they usually are nothing to worry about, says orthopedic surgeon. БItБs a normal, common occurrence,Б he says. But if the constant cracking is coupled with consistent or swelling, that can be a sign that something is wrong. ThatБs the time to see a doctor, Dr. Stearns says. БAs long as itБs not painful, joint noise is OK,Б Dr. Stearns says. БIf thereБs pain, you may have an injury then that requires treatment. Б
RELATED: Why do joints make noise? Many people notice that their joints seem to make more noise as they get. ThereБs a good reason for that. БThe older you get, the more noise your joints can make, because some of your cartilage wears away as part of the normal aging process,Б Dr. Stearns says. БThen these surfaces get a little rougher and so you get more noise as they rub against each other. Б And joint sounds can come and go, depending on how you position your body when you sit and sleep, and how you use your body when you move, Dr.

Stearns says. Cracking, popping joints are so common that Dr. Stearns says his patients ask him about them just about every day. БItБs a common question,Б Dr. Stearns says. БThe bottom line is joints make noise. Б RELATED: WhatБs that sound? There are a few reasons why your joints snap and crack. For example, if youБre at the gym doing repetitive exercises, such as lifting weights or pushups, you might notice a clicking or soft snapping sound each time you bend your arm or leg. This sound usually indicates that a muscle is tight, and is rubbing and causing friction around the bone, Dr. Stearns says. The sound also could be coming from tendons rubbing over the bone. In that case, try gentle stretching, and the snapping should decrease or disappear. Dr. Stearns says many of his patients report these kinds of sounds coming from their shoulders БThe noisiest joint is the shoulder because there are so many moving parts and so many tendons that move over bones,Б he says. RELATED: When you crack your knuckles, the sound is coming from the compression of nitrogen bubbles that naturally occur in the spaces of the joints, Dr. Stearns says. The cracking is the sound of gas being released from the joint, an action called cavitation, Dr.

Stearns says. The sound is not a cause for concern. And despite what your mom said, youБre not going to make your knuckles too big or develop by cracking them. БThe belief that cracking your knuckles is bad for your joints is an old wivesБ tale,Б Dr. Stearns says. БMy mother used to tell me donБt crack your knuckles, but sorry, Mom, thereБs no science to say itБs bad for your joints. Б RELATED: One way to avoid creaking joints is to get up and as much as you can during the day, Dr. Stearns says. БWe say motion is lotion Б the more you move, the more your body lubricates itself,Б Dr. Stearns says. БWhen youБve been sitting or lying around, fluid in the joints doesnБt move. The more active you are, the more your joints lubricate themselves. Б When a joint in your spine moves while you stretch or during spinal manipulation, you may hear a cracking noise. This sound is harmless, although manipulating your joints to make them crack can sometimes cause joint irritation. Both stretching exercises and professional spinal manipulation performed by a licensed chiropractor help relieve pain and tension in the back. However, severe back problems may require medication or surgery. It is normal for the joints in the vertebrae to make a popping or cracking sound while you are stretching your back.

According to "The Chiropractor's Self-Help Back and Body Book," by Samuel Homola, when there is a binding or locking in a spinal joint, a cracking sound may occur when the joint is suddenly loosened through stretching or manipulation. The crack you hear is the sound of gases escaping the protective fluid barriers surrounding the joint. While it is normal, and not harmful, to experience some joint "popping" during stretches or other motions throughout the day, Homola cautions you not to get "addicted" to popping, as excessive manipulation may irritate your joints. If you experience pain when your back joints crack, see a health care professional. Whether or not you hear cracking sounds when you stretch your back, stretching is a good way to relieve back pain and prevent back injuries. Stretching exercises can improve back pain by relieving tension, increasing flexibility and building strength in muscles that support your spine. Several back stretches, including the shoulder squeeze and seated lower back rotational stretch, can be performed easily in your office chair at work. With its emphasis on gentle stretching and strengthening, yoga may be particularly beneficial for back pain sufferers. Some yoga stretches for the back include the cat pose, cobra pose and knee-to-chest pose.

If you have had a serious back injury, surgery or osteoporosis, check with your doctor before trying any back stretches. Another therapy for back pain, based primarily on the manipulation of joints that causes "cracking," is chiropractic care. During a chiropractic adjustment, a chiropractor will forcefully move the joints in your back beyond their usual range of motion. You may hear a loud crack when this happens, and afterward you may feel some pain relief. Chiropractic adjustment is safe when performed by someone trained and licensed in chiropractic care, although the effectiveness varies from person to person. Although both stretching and cracking methods may help safely relieve back pain to some extent, you may require more intensive treatment if your pain is chronic or severe. See a doctor if your back pain is severe or doesn't subside after three days. You should also seek medical treatment if you experience back pain following an injury. Most back pain can be treated without surgery. Your doctor may prescribe pain-relieving or anti-inflammatory medications to help relieve your discomfort. In the most severe cases, when other treatments don't work, surgery may relieve back pain caused by injury or musculoskeletal disorders.

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