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Cracking of Bones and Joints

cracking of bones

A bone is a rigid organ that constitutes part of your skeleton. Bones come in a variety of sizes and shapes and have complex external and internal structures. They have a variety of uses and are tough but lightweight.

Occasionally cracking or popping your knuckles or other joints is normally not harmful and very common. It does not cause arthritis contrary to the old wives’ tale. It can give you greater motion in a joint and provide a feeling of relief. Joint cracking might become more noticeable as you age, as some of your cartilage wears away. If it is accompanied by swelling or pain or follows an injury, it might be caused by an underlying condition. Then it is best to contact a health professional to determine the cause. 

What is Bone Cracking?

In sports medicine and orthopaedic medicine, a clicking, popping or crackling sound in a joint (also called bone cracking by some) might mean that air is moving in the joint, which is normally harmless. 

People often notice this in their knees in the form of knee cracking, but it can also happen in other joints such as the neck, elbow or shoulder. 

Bone cracking with pain can be a sign of injury or wear and tear. If it is painful, you should consult a doctor.

What Are the Symptoms of Bone Cracking?

Bone cracking and joint sounds/voices can be a normal part of the movement. Joint popping is a common problem, especially as individuals age. You might notice:

  • Continual or occasional swelling around the joint
  • A crunching sensation or grinding sounds or crackling when you move your shoulder
  • When you kneel or ascend or descend stairs, your knee may make a crunching sound.
  • Cracking or popping when you bend your elbow
  • Sounds of knee cracking or knee popping when you bend your knee

What Are the Causes of Bone Cracking?

There are different causes for joint cracking. It is common and is normally not an indication of a bone health condition. Exactly what causes the popping or cracking noise is the subject of many studies, but it is still not completely understood.

Some natural causes of joint cracking are:

  • Sounds from muscle activity – Joint sounds may be produced as a result of muscle stretching. For example, a tendon might snap in and out of place while you are dancing, exercising, stretching or moving repetitively in your job. 
  • Cartilage loss – This can occur from ageing, which can roughen joint surfaces, resulting in joint noise with movement.
  • Arthritis – Additionally, this may result in joint noise and cartilage degradation.

Why people experience popping or cracking noises in some parts of their body is something which is not fully known. A traditional explanation is that pressure on a joint creates tiny bubbles in the synovial fluid, which pop when they form quickly. Your bones are protected from rubbing against one another by synovial fluid, which is composed of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and oxygen. 

Is Bone Cracking Bad?

Cracking your knuckles or other joints is not bad, but it might be annoying to the people around you if you do it frequently. In rare instances, you may hurt yourself by squeezing a nerve or straining a muscle if you are cracking a joint too forcefully, such as in your back. 

According to a small 2011 study, the cracking process can give you a physical feeling of relief from pressure, whether you are having a chiropractor manipulate a bone or doing it yourself. 

The common myth that you will get arthritis in your hands if you crack your knuckles has proven to be just a myth by another 2011 study. Knuckle cracking does not decrease cartilage and is not likely to cause osteoarthritis, according to studies.

What is the Treatment for Bone Cracking?

Many causes of joint cracking and popping (crepitus) improve with home remedies, such as using the RICE method (rest, ice, compression and elevation) or taking anti-inflammatory medications. Other causes or effects may require a doctor’s help.

Noninvasive Treatments

Your doctor will discuss several treatment options with you, such as:

  • Splinting or bracing

    Sometimes, a splint or brace can help align the elbow, shoulder or knee so an injury can heal. 

  • Physical therapy

    Our physical therapy teams tailor treatment plans to your goals, activities and condition.

  • Custom orthotics

    Orthotics (special shoe inserts that stabilise the knee and foot), can relieve pain and help you stay active. 

  • Pain relief

    Handled correctly, pain relief methods can eliminate inflammation and discomfort and might let you get back to your favourite activities safely.

Surgical Options

Some causes of bone cracking may require surgical treatment. You may consider:

  • Arthroscopic surgery

    Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that accesses the joint by inserting small tools through extremely small incisions. For Patellofemoral pain syndrome, your surgeon can remove bits of damaged tissue or reposition tendons to provide more knee movement.

  • Debridement

    Some types of arthritis and patellofemoral pain syndrome improve with debridement. The surgeon can smooth damaged cartilage via this minimally invasive procedure to lessen friction.

  • Joint replacement

    When joint damage or arthritis is advanced, you may consider joint replacement. The goal of joint replacement surgery is to replace a damaged joint with an artificial one. 


Popping or cracking the joints is quite common and usually not harmful. If you notice

any pain, swelling or injury, then it is always advisable to seek medical help from an experienced orthopaedist. Timely care and help can ensure an appropriate diagnosis and treatment of your condition (if any).

At the CK Birla Hospital, we ensure patients get holistic medical support which includes treatment in a compassionate environment. This patient-centric approach not only helps patients heal better but also ensures they are aware of the preventive measures as well. In case you need to consult an orthopaedist, reach out to us, or book a direct appointment with Dr. Chirag Arora at the CK Birla Hospital.


Is Cracking Joints Bad?

There is no evidence that knuckle cracking is either advantageous or detrimental. Knuckle cracking particularly does not cause arthritis. Joint cracking can result from a negative pressure pulling nitrogen gas temporarily into the joint, like when knuckles are cracked. This is not harmful.

Which Vitamin Deficiency Causes Popping Joints?

Vitamin D deficiency is a contributing factor to fatigue and joint pain. Additionally, vitamin D helps strengthen your bones if you are getting enough of it.

What Foods Are Good for Your Joints?

Some foods which are good for your joints are cherries, red peppers, turmeric and walnuts. 

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