Clicking Joints: Should I Worry?

Clicking JointsClicking Joints: Should I worry? What are those clicking, popping and crackling sounds in my joints? Is it Arthritis? Have I overdosed on breakfast cereal? No, it’s probably Crepitus. Sounds like a precursor to decrepitude, but it’s not. Crepitus is just the word used to describe the clicking sounds.

In fact, in most cases, if there’s no pain associated with those sounds, it’s nothing to worry about. Many people live their whole lives with some clicking joints and popping without any ill effects.

 Clicking Joints?

Clicking Joints have closed bags of synovial fluid, called bursa, between them. They cushion joint movement so we can walk and work painlessly. That fluid has a little bit of air or gas dissolved in it. Through our daily movement, that gas can form a bubble or cavity in the bag. The fancy term is Cavitation.

When you move your knee, elbow or shoulder, the bubble bursts and makes a click or popping sound. Cracking your knuckles is a good example of breaking those bubbles on purpose. So, the rule of thumb is: no pain, no problem.

Snapping however is another story. That rubber band-like sound is often accompanied by pain. It’s a sign you have an injury, or that some muscle, nerve or connective tissue is out of place.

In this case you should see your doctor. A good way to promote healthy joints in general is to strengthen the muscles around them. Regular strength training can make a difference at any age. If you haven’t been exercising in a while, start slowly and build up. Last thing you want to do is hurt the joints you’re trying to strengthen.

So, what’s the takeaway here? Well, next time your friends have clicks and pops in their joints, you can tell them they probably have Crepitus!

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Fitness & Wellness Q & A’s by Mirabai Holland, MFA ©2013

Here are three fitness and wellness Q & A’s that I’d like to share with you this week. I’d love to hear your comments and feel free to send me your questions too.

Q: I am in fairly decent shape at 62. I stay active and exercise. What does it mean when I hear my bones sometimes “crack” when I do some movements? I do not ever feel pain. Will the exercise help and maybe stop the popping?

A: Exercise is good for both the body and mind, but it probably won’t stop the popping.  People of all ages and fitness levels experience that popping sound; and it doesn’t necessarily indicate any abnormal condition. Your joints are lubricated with a substance called synovial fluid. It contains nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide gasses. The popping sound is actually bubbles of those gasses escaping when you move your joints. This is normal and nothing to worry about. But people who feel pain at those moments should consult their doctors. They may have arthritic joints due to the loss of cartilage.

 Q: I am in my 40’s with a high stress job. I exercise at the gym at work at least 3 times a week. I try not to bring work home with me but I am always tense and I have trouble sleeping at night. My mind is racing. Warm milk hasn’t worked, bubble baths make me tenser and I don’t want to take drugs. Any ideas?

A: You are not alone. Stress is one of the main contributors to aging and disease. It sounds like you have a build-up of stress so it’s important to relieve tension at work as well as when you are trying to fall asleep. Try this breathing exercise at work and then again as you are lying in bed. It should help relax you and slow down your thoughts. Start with taking a breath and holding it for three seconds and then exhaling. Repeat and hold for 4 seconds and continue each time holding a second longer until you get to ten seconds. After the last breath, keep your eyes closed and focus on a peaceful memory. A place or time when you felt most relaxed. Stay there as long as you can or at night until you fall asleep.

Q: I need to lose 20 pounds. I am doing aerobics three times a week and watching my calories but I am losing so slowly, I was wondering if there is any other type of exercise that could help me lose weight faster? I am really getting frustrated and I am almost ready to just give up.

A: Try adding 2-3 days of weight training to the mix. Studies show the winning formula is a combination of aerobic and weight training exercise. Moderate aerobic exercise burns calories while you are doing it and for a short time afterwards. Weight training burns calories too but it also increases your lean muscle mass. So as you add more muscle, you’ll burn more calories all day long. Research from Tufts University found that after 12 weeks of weight training, total calorie burning increased by about 15 percent which for an average adult, could amount to an extra 240 to 400 calories a day.

For more info about Mirabai and her Moving Free Technique go to www.mirabaiholland.com

 

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