What is Crepitus?

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Ever heard a bone making cracking, crunching or popping sounds when you move your knee? The sound is similar to your knuckles cracking. It often occurs after any knee trauma following an accident, fracture, trauma or illness. If you have, or know any senior member in your family who has, you may want to know more about treating this condition called “crepitus.” Crepitus is more common in the elderly as the bone gets weaker. Sometimes, the sound of popping is audible to others in the room as well. 

How is Crepitus Caused?

Crepitus is characteristically not a painful condition. The sound is usually caused by tiny nitrogen bubbles that form and collapse within the joints during strenuous movement. What can cause more pain is when tendons or ligaments snap over the bony joints. This can occur following a joint dysfunction or on its own. 

Another common villain behind the disorder is arthritis. In various forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis, the fibrous cartilage degenerates (the soft tissues that cushion the knee joints that is also called meniscus), so the bones grate against each other resulting in Crepitus. 

Although the knee is more commonly affected, other arthritis-prone areas, such as the hands, lower back, shoulder, hip, neck and spine, can also be affected. If it persists for a long time, it can worsen into an infection, more serious injury or joint damage. 

Watch out for sharp pain that is caused by nerves compressing between narrow joint spaces. You may also experience inflammation, swelling or redness. 

Conditions that Lead to Crepitus

Crepitus can also arise as a result of other conditions, such as the ones below:

  • Bursitis: Inflammation of the fluid sacs around the joints called busa. The condition called Bursitis can lead to infection, injury or autoimmune disorder. When the inflammation reduces, the bones can grind against each other, leading to Crepitus. 
  • Synovium: Inflammation in the fluid-filled area around the joint tendon, called Synovium, where tiny air bubbles form during joint movement. 
  • Jaw Cartilage Damage: If the cartilage around the jaw is damaged or ruptured, Crepitus can result from a displaced cartilage disc in the hollow of the jaw area, causing discomfort and popping sounds when you open your mouth. 
  • Joint Tear: When cartilage around the wrists or shoulder joints (rotator cuff) tears or get worn down.
  • Lung Conditions: Crepitus of the lungs can occur from pulmonary edema, pneumonia, bronchitis or interstitial lung diseases where the tissue around the alveoli in the lung area is affected, causing loud popping sounds, causing the alveoli to collapse. During inhalation, the alveoli expands with difficulty but during exhalation, the sacs snap and collapse causing the popping sound. 

Diagnosis of Crepitus

The diagnostic process for Crepitus differs with the causes of the condition and accompanying symptoms. Sometimes there is just discomfort, other times, there is a sharp pain when the joints snap. You will require imaging tests to detect the source of the problem such as ultrasound, x-ray, CT scan or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). A blood test may be required to detect autoimmune disorders. 

Treatment at Dundas Chiropractic

Treatment can vary from simple ice application to routine exercises, low-impact activities with light weights or anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve pain. If the condition worsens, injections may be required to reduce inflammation. If your mobility is affected, physical therapy or joint replacement surgery may be required. 

If you suspect Crepitus, it is best to consult a trusted professional to get treated and rule out serious ailments. Call Oakville’s top rated chiropractic professionals, Dundas Chiropractic, to bounce back fast, safely. We offer a variety of treatments and therapies as well as an X-ray on-site. Our doctors and team professionals are experienced in all forms of pain and discomfort related to your body, specifically your back, neck, legs, arms, and feet. Booking an appointment is easy; just call Dundas Chiropractic. New patients are welcome. 

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