Snap, crackle, pop: decoding the mysterious noises in your neck

Does your neck pop, crack, or grind when you move? If you’re worried these noises might signal a problem like arthritis, read on for more information.

When your neck makes crackling sounds, it can happen for different reasons. Some noises are harmless, while others indicate that there may be something wrong with the joints in your neck. It can be difficult to tell the difference between the two, so how do you know?

The audible sound that happens during normal motion is called crepitus. It can come from your joints, ligaments, or tendons sliding over a bone. Usually, the latter is nothing to worry about, but noises from joints and ligaments can suggest a problem. Let's take a look.

Popping or cracking noises can happen in a healthy spine. It’s thought to be gas escaping from the facet joints at the back of the spine. When it occurs only occasionally it's likely to be normal, and it is common.

People who are very flexible may experience joint noises due to hypermobile ligaments. This can cause clicking sounds when the joints move. While being flexible can be beneficial for certain activities, such as dancing or gymnastics, it can also lead to problems. Joint hypermobility syndrome, also known as double-jointedness, may result in pain, muscle strain, fatigue, digestive issues, and fainting.

Joint noises can be a sign of arthritis, which means inflammation in the joints. Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that happens when the cartilage in the joints wears down over time, commonly due to aging or overuse. This can cause rough bones to rub together, creating a 'bone-onbone' creaking or crackling sound. An X-ray can help determine if arthritis is causing the noise in your neck.

As you can see, there’s no one-size-"ts-all answer. If you’re concerned about the sounds your neck makes, talk to us. We can examine your spine, investigate the potential causes of crepitus and determine whether there could be a problem. Don't hesitate to reach out to us with any questions you have about your neck health.

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