Clicking and Crepitus

One of the most frequently asked questions I get in the clinic from patients are the concerning sounds like clicking, popping, snapping produced my movement. These noises can be concerning to the patient therefore leading to think that movement is aggravating and damaging the affected area. As we age, these types of sensations become more prevalent and the majority of times are not indicative of pathology.

Crepitus also known as crepitation describes any crunching, popping or grinding sensations experienced under the skin and joints due to the presence of air in the tissue. Patients will generally experience this sensation in the knees but can also occur in the hip, shoulder, spine and neck.

Common causes of crepitus

  • Overtime gas can build up in the area forming air particles in synovial fluid within the joint. As a result, creates popping and cracking sounds that usually are pain free.
  • Ligaments or tendons gliding over the joint surface that could sometimes cause pain.
  • Noise around the joints can also be from degenerative changes overtime, post surgery or patellofemoral instability.

Is treatment needed for crepitus?

  • Usually crepitus doesn’t warrant treatment as most peoples joints will crack occasionally and wont be painful.

When to be concerned about crepitus

  • If the noises are painful and there is excessive swelling it could potentially indicate the early onset of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or dysfunction within the patella.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms and its causing pain, don’t hesitate to contact one of our OPH professionals for further assistance.