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Why Do Joints Pop, Snap and Grind?

January 12, 2021 3 min read

Joint pain remedy

Why do our joints make so many noises? 

There are 3 main sounds that come from our joints - pops, snaps and grinds.  Most of the time these sounds are NOT accompanied by pain and that's generally a good thing. 

You can watch the video below to find out why those sounds come from your joints and what they mean, or read on.


1. Ok, let's start with popping. What is that and is it bad?

Popping occurs because we have dissolved gases in the fluids inside our joints. The fluid is there to protect the joint tissue and the gas is just part of the normal environment. 

Every so often those gases come out of solution and form a bubble in the fluid - when the bubble implodes it makes the familiar popping sound when someone 'crack's their knuckles. 

Popping is harmless, and won't actually lead to arthritis like we've been taught!

Popping also isn't therapeutic, meaning it doesn't do anything for the health of your joints other than perhaps some psychological satisfaction with the habit.

Again, if you have popping without pain, this is true. If it's accompanied by pain then you should see someone. 

2. Snapping is caused by tendons moving across bony prominences outside of joints.  This most often occurs in the ankles and knees, especially in the mornings.  

Morning is more common because the muscle and tendons are contracted from disuse overnight, making them tighter so that when the limbs are moved the tendons aren't as stretched out and thus snap across the bones.  

You might hear less snapping as the day wears on when the tissues are warmed up a bit.  

Again, as long as it's painless nothing to worry about!

3. Grinding occurs when the cartilage inside the joints begins to wear unevenly. This is a normal part of the aging process (it begins in our 30's!) and while grinding may be painless, that joint may be more susceptible to osteoarthritis in time. 

Osteoarthritis is simply the wearing down of cartilage and may eventually become painful.

How can we prevent osteoarthritis?  

1. Hydration keeps the synovial joint fluid (the protective fluid within our joints) at optimal levels to protect the joint.

2. Glucosamine - provides the building blocks from which cartilage is made. Glucosamine stimulates production of cartilage building proteins and limits cartilage/joint degradation over time.

2. Foods rich in sulfur- needed for the flexible bonds in our connective tissues. Animal proteins, such as fish, poultry, beef, and eggs provide sulfur, while vegetable foods like Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, and garlic are great vegetarian sources.

3. Other nutrients - zinc, copper, manganese, vitamin C are found easily in a healthy whole food diet. 

4. Bone broth is very popular right now because of its gut healing effects. But did you know it also contains the very nutrients your joints need (collagen)?  If bone broth isn't part of your of your regimen, might be a good idea to add it. 

5. Pain - if you do have painful joints, consider incorporating some natural anti-inflammatory pain relievers instead of things like ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) - they don't do anything for the lifespan of the joint and have several side effects

Try these instead:

Remember, if sounds are painless, it's probably not an issue.  If there's pain, then you should be seen by a health care provider. 

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