Why do my joints pop

Snap, Crackle and Pop – What is actually happening when your joints make these noises?

Why does my shoulder make this sound?

Why do my knees crack when I stand up?

Should I crack my neck and make it click?

Are these noises related to my problem and will they make it worse?


These are just a few of the questions we get asked in clinic on a regular basis regarding the noises our body makes.

99.9% of the time – noises that come from your body are nothing to worry about!

If it was something to worry about – it would be accompanied by a high level of pain and probably some dysfunction afterwards.

Your body is made up of so many different bones, muscles, connective tissues – they're bound to rub off each other and make noises from time to time.

Let’s take a look at some common topics related to body noises and see if we can answer your questions, concerns and also bust some myths!

Neck cracking and crunching?

With noises in the neck there can be a few different reasons why we may hear noises or be able to develop a crunching when moving the neck and head.

Looking at the anatomy of the neck it is made up of several bones, discs and many ligaments and tendons which secure the structure – then muscle which overlays all this.

Bearing this in mind – there can be a combination of reasons why the neck cracks:

  1. See above – there can be a build-up of pressure within the synovial/facet joints of the neck. When they need to be released, neck movement can create cracking and popping sensations.
  2. Ligaments and tendons – because both of these tissues connect to the bones of the neck, it can cause grinding, snapping, clicking noises to be made on movement. This is particularly common in necks that are more tense than usual due to stress or ones that have suffered injury. This causes everything to be held tighter and the connective tissues to hold the joints of the neck more firmly.
  3. Bone on bone grinding – this one again is no surprise, there are lots of bones in the body, but if you are older this may be more pronounced due to reduced cartilage causing more frequent noises in the neck.

When should I be worried about noises?

Only if there is pain and swelling – and it’s that simple.

If a joint cracks and causes you severe pain and then a noticeable swelling – this is the only time you should be concerned.

MSK Sports Injury Clinic
Laura Jones
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