- What is that cracking, crunching sound when I move a joint?
- If I have osteoarthritis and it hurts to move, should I try to move the affected area or stabilize it?
Let’s first talk Crepitus. Sometimes called crepitation (krep-i-tay-shen), describes any grinding, creaking, cracking, grating, crunching, or popping that occurs when moving a joint. People can experience crepitus at any age, but it becomes more common as people get older. Many people experience crepitus in their knees. People can also get crepitus in other joints, such as the hip, shoulder, neck and spine, which are frequently affected by (osteo)arthritis.
Crepitus usually is not a cause for concern. In fact, most people’s joints crack or pop occasionally, and that is considered normal. And we surely hear alot of the cracking and popping in our Yoga Classes for the 50+ population! But if crepitus is regular and is accompanied by pain, swelling, or other concerning symptoms, it may be an indication of arthritis or another medical condition.
Move it or Not? So, you may be thinking you have arthritis in one of these cracking, popping joints. Probably you do. Should you try to move (which can be painful) or keep it still and stable? While exercise and movement are important to treating osteoarthritis because it loosens things up as well as strengthens the musculature around the joint…. some types of activities and exercise will aggravate the joint. Only YOU can determine which movements feel right for you. Certain high impact activities, repetitive in-and-out joint motions or large range of motion movements should be avoided if there is pain that is truly uncomfortable. Replace these types of movements with movements which exert less force on the joint. But don’t eliminate movement! … use smooth, slow, easy patterns with a smaller range of motion and lots of long deep breaths.
Motion is Lotion! While painful osteoarthritis may cause you to to be less active in general, less physical activity is not advisable. In fact, inactivity is harmful, and often leads to other health problems.