In the past few days I notice that many of my joints crack. I'm male and 30 years old. I have cracking in my knees,elbows,wrists and also my toes when I walk!
I do not take any medicine and didn't change anything which could explain why suddenly my joints crack.
I also have a longer history of pain in my knees and wrists and I also have been having persistent pain in one of my finger knuckles. I got an MRI of my hand and it also showed nothing except a slight swelling of the tissue beneath the skin and yet I have been having pain for over 1 year now when I bend my finger and it doesn't get better at all.
I'm very worried about all these things and no doctor can help me. I have also been to an osteologist who ran expensive blood tests and also found nothing. I don't know what else I can do. Whenever I went to an orthopaedist
with pain or cracking he was never able to help me or tell me what's wrong.
For those who are interested, the sounds coming from the joints (described as popping, snapping, cracking, "cellophane" sound, bricks rubbing together, and many, many more) is called benign crepitus.
Unfortunately, the cause of the sounds is not known. Just like when you crack your finger knuckles, the sound produced is a type of crepitus. But, what causes the sound is still not known.
However, there are a few sounds emanating from specific joints which do have a known cause. Such as the low clunk of a joint (usually the shoulder or hip) reducing itself after subluxing or the snapping of a tendon across the front of the hip joint, known as "snapping hip syndrome".
But, in general, the snap, crackle, and pop heard coming from the knee and ankle joints is just crepitus. The loudness of the sounds vary from very loud (you can hear the patient walking down the hallway) to very soft (basically the "sound" can only be felt within the joint but now actually heard).
And, there is no correlation between the sounds and pain within the joint. Some patients have very loud crepitus, but have absolutely no pain in the joint whatsoever. And, the reverse is also true; some patients have very minimal crepitus, but have significant pain in the joint.
Thus, except for the few specific incidents of known sounds, crepitus has no specific treatment. And, usually does not require any. If a patient is having pain in the joint, then the source of the pain should be investigated (not the sound).
Many years ago, orthopedic surgeons thought that the crepitus was coming from the cartilage on the underside of the patella being rough (like a cat's tongue). So, they did surgery to shave down the cartilage, to make it smooth. However, this did not take the patient’s pain away. All it did was make the cartilage thinner, so it wore out faster. Thus, the surgery was abandoned.
But, a new group of orthopedic surgeons came about and though that they could do a better job with the use of the arthroscope. They did not learn the lesson of their predecessors. So, they went in and shaved down the cartilage, using arthroscopy. It also did not work, just made the cartilage thinner. Thus, this procedure has also been abandoned.
Thus, the sound coming from the joints is called benign crepitus. Its cause is not known. It has no correlation with any pain a patient may be having in a specific joint. And, there is no actual treatment that will make the crepitus go away.