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If you’re like most people, cracking your knuckles, back, or even your neck is common practice. Many people say their joints feel better after doing so. If you experience pain during this practice when didn't previously, you should visit your medical provider. The medical term for the popping sound that you hear is crepitus.

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Is It Normal?

In most cases, it is normal to have joints that crack or pop. Usually, you should not feel any pain or swelling at the location site. Joint cracking often occurs after you’ve been sitting or lying down for an extended period. It can even happen after an extensive workout.

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What Makes the Popping Sound?

When your joints "crack," the noise may be caused by a few factors. The popping sound could come from muscle tightness around your bones, this causes cause friction, creating the pop that you hear. As you age, your cartilage can also start to deteriorate, and tendons may rub against a joint, creating the sound of cracking. Also, your bones have nitrogen gas inside them, so when you crack your knuckles, for example, the gas is released, causing a popping sound.

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Can Cracking Your Knuckles Cause Arthritis?

Many people were taught if you crack your knuckles, you will end up with arthritis. This notion is false. There have been many studies done that prove that there is no increase in arthritis diagnoses in people who crack their knuckles versus people who don’t.

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Should You Crack Your Back and Neck?

Although it may feel good to crack your neck and back yourself, you could do some harm. Many people snap their backs and necks because they are experiencing pain or tension in these areas. When you crack these joints on your own, you are at risk for pulled muscles and overstretched or torn ligaments. It's also an easy way to misalign your back. You should leave this type of work to a professional, such as a chiropractor.

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What If Your Joints Are Painful?

If you are experiencing pain in your joints and get a little bit of relief when you crack them, the best thing to do is to see a chiropractor to find the cause of your pain. There are a variety of illnesses that can cause joint pain, some of which may require medication, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, gout, and bursitis.

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What Injuries Are Associated with Cracking Your Joints?

If you are injured, your joints may crack on their own. If you feel pain associated with your joints, you may have an undiagnosed injury. Torn ligaments or tendons, as well as broken bones or dislocated joints, can cause these familiar sounds. In most cases, you will experience extreme pain if you have one of these injuries, and may only hear a single cracking sound.

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What Should You Expect on a Visit to the Chiropractor?

When you visit a chiropractor, he or she will perform a physical examination and may take x-rays of the areas causing problems; your pain may come from a physical misalignment. Once the issue is identified, the chiropractor will adjust your body by adjusting at or around those specific joints. After the doctor finds and repairs the problem, you should begin to feel better. Following your initial appointment, you may have to schedule follow-up appointments to maintain proper alignment.

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Are There Natural Remedies for Joint Pain?

You can try many natural remedies if you are experiencing joint pain and don’t want to take pain medications. Epsom salt baths, for example, can decrease inflammation in the body and relax areas that are stiff or tense. Another change you can implement yourself is more physical activity. When you live a sedentary lifestyle, your muscles can become stiff, causing pain in your joints. This stiffness leads to frequent cracking or popping sounds. Regular exercise can strengthen muscles and stretch the painful joints, reducing inflammation. Collagen supplements might be beneficial, too, as they can help rebuild damaged joints.

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When Should You See a Doctor?

You should consult a medical professional anytime you experience pain in your joints, as conditions that cause this symptom could be severe. Diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis can cause deterioration of the bone and require medication. Also, if you are injured, consult a doctor immediately to avoid any permanent damage to your joints.

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What Medical Treatments are Available?

Before treating joint pain associated with cracking, your doctor will perform a variety of tests to find the exact cause. After diagnosis, your medical provider may prescribe medications based on your condition. There are also some over-the-counter drugs that can help if your joints are cracking and painful. If you have a condition that requires surgery, an orthopedic surgeon can help. These surgeons may replace some of the areas in your body that are causing your pain.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.