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Why do joints/bones crack when I move?

By August 21, 2008 - 10:59am
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When I get up from sitting for a while, my knees crack. Why does this happen? Is this symptomatic of something I need to be concerned about?

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Joints can make different noises--some are serious and some are not. There may be other unknown causes, but the three most common factors are:

- Air bubbles that appear in the joint and "pops" when the air is released or reabsorbed.

- Some joints crack as the ligaments and tendons that pass over them slide past bumps on the bones.

- Arthritis in joints may crack and grind, due to the roughness of the joint surface due to loss of the smooth cartilage.

One site noted:
"However, this type of joint cracking [arthritis] usually is found in patients who have known arthritis. It is uncommon for a patient's first complaint of arthritis to be joint cracking."

The bottom line:
Joint cracking should not cause pain, and most doctors agree that you are unlikely to be doing any harm (ie, "causing" arthritis). If there is pain associated with the cracking, please visit with your health care provider!

Source: UW Medicine Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine website:

August 21, 2008 - 2:03pm
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