The symptom of joint cracking is described differently by different people while nevertheless representing the same condition. Various descriptions for the same process include "popping," "exploding," "noise," "snapping," and "creaking" of a joint. The cause of joint cracking depends on a number of conditions. Situational information that is essential in detecting the cause of joint popping includes whether it a singular episode of sounds coming from the joint or if it is a repeatable, recurrent event.
Joint popping that occurs once only is sometimes a result of injury to the joint. Such causes of joint popping include ligament strain or ligament tear, tendon strain or tendon tear (tendon rupture), broken bone (fracture), and joint dislocation.
Joint popping that occurs repeatedly, sometimes intentionally, can be caused by harmless events, such as knuckle cracking or snapping of a tendon over a protruding bony prominence. Repeated joint popping can also be caused by conditions that represent more serious joint status, such as a cartilage tear from a torn meniscus or degenerated cartilage from arthritis (osteoarthritis).
The most common joint to be associated with joint cracking is the knee joint.
Klippel, J.H., et al. Primer on the Rheumatic Diseases. New York: Springer, 2008.
Causes of Joint Cracking
Broken Bone (Types of Bone Fractures)
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The shoulder is the most often dislocated joint in the body due to its mobility. Dislocation occurs when the head of the humerus...
Ehlers-Danlos syndromes are genetic disorders that include symptoms such as loose joints, tissue weakness, easy bruising, and...
The joint hypermobility syndrome is a condition in which the joints easily move beyond the normal range expected for a particular...
Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis caused by inflammation, breakdown, and eventual loss of cartilage in the joints. Also...
With osteochondritis dissecans, bone and its adjacent cartilage loses its blood supply. Though osteochondritis dissecans can...
Sprains and Strains
An injury to a ligament is called a sprain, and an injury to muscle or tendon is called a strain. Sprains and strains may be...
Torn ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear)
The anterior cruciate ligament helps to prevent the top and bottom of the knee from sliding back and forth. Symptoms and signs of...
A torn meniscus (knee cartilage) may be caused by suddenly stopping, sharply twisting, or deep squatting or kneeling when lifting...