Does your body make noises during movement? Each of these snap, crackles and pops has their own name and sometimes-common causes. “Crepitus” is used as a general term for body noise (including flatulence and rattling lungs) – but when the term is used in reference to your joints it describes any of the disturbing crackling, crunching and grating-type sounds that occur with movement. It is the Latin word for rattling or creaking and has the same root as the word “creepy” – which literally means “having a creeping feeling in the flesh”. This is where anatomy meets etymology. Two of my favorite things! Those disturbing noises emanating from your joints certainly are “creepy” – in the most literal sense of the word.
I often hear the sounds of others’ joints grinding, crunching and crackling when I teach movement, most notably from students’ knees and ankles. Pretty much anytime I instruct students into a squat, I’m greeted by a compliant chorus of crackling knees. And while some of this could be relatively harmless “popping” (see Part IV on Friday), it’s also possible that the sounds are symptomatic of something more serious – like worn down cartilage coatings. In this case, what you’re hearing is the sound of two rough, damaged joint surfaces grating across one another. Cree-py!
Tendons and ligaments also surround the knee joint are another potential source of the “sounding off” that occurs when the knee is in motion during the transition from standing to squatting (for more info on this, see Part II)
Keep joints in good alignment by maintaining balance and symmetry through all of the surrounding tissues. A good way to do this is to develop a well-rounded stretching and strengthening regimen for all the muscles that surround and influence the position of the knee, including your hamstrings, quadriceps, adductors and your TFL and IT band.
Make some space in your knee joint with this easy knee stretch from Jill on the #OWNShow
Come back Friday for the last installment of this 4 part series, Snap, Crackle and Pop – Part IV: Pop!
This article is part 3 of a 4-part series on interpreting sounds from the joint space. Come back Friday to learn about synovial joints that snap!