09:12 AM

What Those Body Noises Are Trying to Tell You

Joel M. Press, MD, physiatrist-in-chief at HSS, and others discuss body noises and when they’re a cause for concern.

If your joints are cracking, “it's not something to fear in and of itself,” said Dr. Press. The sound could stem from air or gas bubbles being released in the synovial fluid around the joint, which is often the case when your wrists, knees or feet crack. Or, it could be from a muscle or tendon snapping against the side of your anklebone or hip bone when you stretch your leg after sitting for a long time. By contrast, a grinding sound that occurs in your knees could be due to some degeneration. “As we get older, we all get wear and tear in our joints — it's like gray hair and wrinkles,” explained Dr. Press. “As cartilage wears down, you have less shock absorption so when two areas rub against each other, you may hear some noise.”

However, the key question is: Does the joint hurt when it makes noise? If it does, or if the joint is swollen, red or bruised, has limited mobility, or gets stuck or locked in place, those are signs of a problem. Joint noise accompanied by any of these symptoms may signal arthritis, an injury or a movement problem in the joint, said Dr. Press. If such symptoms are present, it is advised to see a primary care physician, a musculoskeletal specialist, a physiatrist or an orthopedic surgeon.

Read the full article at AARP.org.