As we age, we may experience a variety of physical changes, including the sound of our bones creaking. This can be a cause for concern for some people, while others simply accept it as a normal part of aging. In this article, we will explore the reasons why bones creak and what you can do to alleviate this common issue.
- What causes bones to creak?
- Is creaking bones a sign of arthritis?
- Can you prevent bones from creaking?
- When should you be concerned about creaking bones?
What Causes Bones to Creak?
Bones creaking is technically known as crepitus, and it occurs when joints move, producing a grinding or cracking sound. This sound often occurs when you move your joints, such as when you stand up or sit down. The joints in your ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, and neck are common locations where crepitus occurs.
One reason for the creaking sound is the soft tissue around your joints, such as the tendons and ligaments, rubbing against bone or other soft tissue. Also, as we age, the cartilage in our joints may wear down, causing bones to rub together, producing the creaking sound.
Lack of Physical Activity
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to weaker muscles and bones. When muscles weaken, they can no longer adequately support our skeletal system, resulting in increased pressure on our joints. This increased pressure causes inflammation, leading to the creaking sound.
Excess weight can put added strain on your joints, especially those in your lower body like your hips, knees, and ankles. This extra pressure can damage cartilage, leading to crepitus.
As mentioned earlier, age is one of the most common reasons for crepitus. As we age, our joints lose elasticity and flexibility, resulting in the creaking sound. Age-related changes in joint lubrication may also cause bones to rub against each other, which increases the likelihood of crepitus.
Is Creaking Bones a Sign of Arthritis?
Creaking bones alone are not a sign of arthritis. However, if you are experiencing creaking bones along with pain, swelling, and stiffness, you may have arthritis. Arthritis is a disease that affects the joints and cartilage, leading to inflammation and pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks the joints, leading to inflammation, pain, and stiffness. Creaking bones can be an early sign of rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in your joints wears down over time, leading to bones rubbing against each other. This can cause pain, stiffness, and creaking bones.
Can You Prevent Bones from Creaking?
While you cannot prevent bones from creaking entirely, there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of crepitus:
- Stay active: Regular exercise strengthens muscles, leading to improved joint support.
- Manage weight: Maintaining a healthy weight reduces stress on your joints.
- Get enough rest: Adequate sleep helps your body to repair itself, leading to optimal joint function.
- Eat a balanced diet: Eating a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help promote healthy bones and joints.
When Should You Be Concerned About Creaking Bones?
If you are experiencing creaking bones along with pain, swelling, and stiffness, you should see a doctor. This could be a sign of arthritis or other underlying health conditions. Additionally, if your creaking bones are accompanied by clicking or popping sounds, this could be a sign of a joint injury or damage that requires medical attention.
Seek Medical Attention
If you experience any of the following symptoms in addition to creaking bones, you should seek medical attention:
- Swelling, redness, warmth or tenderness around the joint
- Difficulty moving the joint
- Joint stiffness or locking
- Bone deformity or abnormal growths
- Unexplained weight loss
Creaking bones can be a natural part of the aging process, but it can also be a sign of underlying health conditions like arthritis. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of crepitus, such as staying active, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting enough rest. It’s important to see a doctor if you are experiencing creaking bones along with pain, swelling, or stiffness or if your creaking bones are accompanied by clicking or popping sounds.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (n.d.). Crepitus. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/crepitus.
- Arthritis Foundation (n.d.). Crepitus. https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/about-arthritis/related-conditions/other-diseases/crepitus.
- Harvard Health Publishing (2013). Why do my joints crack and pop? https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/why-do-my-joints-crack.
- Healthline Media (2019). Creaking joints: Causes and treatments. https://www.healthline.com/health/creaking-joints.
- Medical News Today (2019). How to stop or reduce a creaking voice. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325863.
- NHS (2019). Joint Pain. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/joint-pain/.