Have you ever found yourself walking down some stairs when you’re met with some strange popping sounds emanating from your knees? Or maybe you hear popping when you bend over to pick something up? Snapping, crackling, and popping sounds can also come from your hips, shoulders, elbows, and other joints. What is that popping sound? It can be a bit disconcerting to hear such sounds, especially when they’re new to you. The expert chiropractors at Revelation Chiropractic in Fort Collins are here to help with those popping sounds — and we’ll start by exploring exactly what they are.

Explaining Those Popping Sounds

The first thing to note is that popping sounds from your joints are not necessarily something to be worried about, especially if you’re not experiencing any other kind of symptoms. Popping sounds are extremely common as you get older, and they can even pop up after exercise or chiropractic work. Not to worry. While these sounds (what doctors call “crepitus”) are more common in folks with arthritis, they will inevitably pop up from time to time regardless of the health of your joints.

In short, crepitus is caused by the build-up of tiny bubbles of gas in the fluid surrounding your joints. When you move or stretch the joints — say, from bending over — you cause some of the bubbles to burst, which can also cause the ligaments to snap or pop. Everyone will experience this kind of popping from time to time. 

What Kinds of Gases?

You might be wondering what kinds of gases are building up in the fluid around your joints. There are several gases that can cause those bubbles, including oxygen, carbon dioxide, or nitrogen. All of these gases are naturally produced by your body. 

These gases are produced within the liquid around your joints (which is called synovial fluid). The joints in your body are encapsulated by this fluid, which your body creates to keep your joints lubricated and healthy. 

Why Do They Pop?

Gases like oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen are naturally occurring within the synovial fluid and, like any liquid, bubbles will be more common when things are moved around or shook up. When gases found in the synovial fluid release at a rapid rate, such as during a chiropractic adjustment, it causes bubbles to form. These gas bubbles make the popping sound. Once you hear a pop or crack, you’ll have to wait until carbon dioxide, oxygen, and nitrogen return back to the synovial fluid surrounding your joint to hear a pop again. 

When Should I Worry?

As mentioned, this crepitus is extremely common, to the point that everyone will experience it from time to time. It’s normal and healthy to experience these sounds. You should expect it after chiropractic work, massages, vigorous exercise, and other types of movements that could cause the rapid release of gases in your synovial fluid. However, there are certain times when these popping sounds could be an indicator of more than just bubbles popping.

The biggest thing to look out for is any sort of symptoms accompanying crepitus. You should expect popping sounds, but they should be harmless. If you notice any pain associated with the popping of your joints, this could be an indication of things like arthritis. Seek out a professional if your knee creaks, crackles, and hurts. You might also want to talk with a professional if you notice crepitus after an injury. You can visit your Fort Collins chiropractor if you have questions about the popping sounds you’re experiencing. Schedule your appointment with Revelation Chiropractic today.