Clicking Joints – How Physio Can Help

Clicking and cracking joints are very common for most people, and while some of us experience the odd crack every now and then, some people are serial artists in making several parts of their body crack.

Is a cracking joint always bad? Can cracking your joints cause arthritis? Here are the answers you need, but more importantly, how our physiotherapists can help.

Why do joints click and crack?
There are three main reasons why you may hear your joints clicking and cracking:

  • Moving tendons – your bones are not always as smooth as they’re shown to be in pictures, as your tendons do their job and work to keep your muscles attached they may “trip” over a lump or bump on your bone. This causes the clicking sound, and whilst it can be quite unnerving, it is usually harmless.
  • Escaping gas – this category is usually for the people who constantly crack their neck, knuckles and everything else in between. Sometimes “pressure” can build up inside a joint making it feel stiff. Although cracking the joint may provide some immediate relief, the sudden movement of the joint can actually cause some damage over time. Due to the sudden movement, ligaments may be stretched (causing the joint to become less stable) and in some cases the bones may hit each other causing cracks and other abrasions over time. Although not immediately harmful, there are far better techniques to relieving joint stiffness.
  • Arthritis – technically speaking, there are many types of arthritis. However, the baseline of most types is that bones are rubbing together without any cushioning or protection to lubricate the track. This is extremely painful and degenerative. The clicking and cracking can be an indication that your bones are not travelling normally in their joint.

How can our physiotherapists can help?

  1. Working out why you are clicking and cracking – although there are many harmless reasons for clicking and cracking joints, there are enough very painful and degenerative reasons too. This means time is of the essence, and working out the cause essential.
  2. Improve joints and prevent future issues – if after your assessment the physiotherapist decides it may be of a more innocent nature, then they can move to creating a strength and conditioning program that helps to release stiff joints, improve flexibility and increase your joint health to minimise any unhelpful cracking. This also gives them the opportunity to show you how to prevent any long-term issues and notice warning signs early.
  3. Begin immediate treatment for serious issues – if your physiotherapist decides it could be causing damage or a sign of arthritis, they can begin creating a treatment program for you immediately and provide suggestions for pain management, increasing strength and even options for your diet to help support your joint health. They will work closely with your GP to create an exercise regime to prevent further damage and begin healing your joints. Obviously, time is your most important tool here, so seeking support as soon as you notice the cracking is the best thing to do.

I’m clicking and cracking, where do I start? Contact the practice for an assessment today on (02) 4721 7798, email info@progressiverehab.com.au or booking online, here.

 

Suzanne graduated from Western Sydney University with a Bachelor of Health Science (Sports and Exercise Science) in 2015. She then went on to continue her studies at Macquarie University graduating from the Doctor of Physiotherapy post-graduate degree in June 2019.

Since graduating, Suzanne has worked in the local Penrith area in both private practice and Sports Physiotherapy. Suzanne has worked with sporting teams including Penrith District Netball Association, Mt Druitt Rangers (NPL), Penrith Valley Figure Skating Club, and local dance and cheer schools. 

Suzanne has a particular interest in working with artistic athletes including cheerleaders and dancers. She has a professional background in both cheer and dance and has previously worked as both a cheer coach and dance teacher. Suzanne’s previous experiences are an invaluable resource to her as a physiotherapist, as she has a thorough understanding of the level of physical fitness and skill acquisition that these athletes must have in order to be successful on stage and in competition.

Suzanne’s other areas of clinical interest reside in lower limb musculoskeletal injuries, spinal pathologies and women’s health.

Nathanial graduated as a physiotherapist in 2012 which saw him work in private practice and hospital settings gaining experience in all areas of physiotherapy including hand therapy, splinting/casting, pre/post-operative care, Men’s Health and general musculoskeletal, occupational and sports physiotherapy. Since then he has gone on to complete further studies in physiotherapy enabling him to be the only dual titled Musculoskeletal, Sports and Exercise Physiotherapist in Penrith.

Nathanial has a strong background in sports physiotherapy achieving accreditation with NSWIS as a service provider and working with many elite sports teams.

Nathanial has a particular interest in working with elite athletes, complex cases and in particular assessment and management of knee, hip and shoulder pain.

Andrea graduated from the Australian Catholic University completing her Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science in 2018 and Master’s of Clinical Exercise Physiology in 2020. After graduating she attained accreditation with ESSA as an Exercise Physiologist.

During her studies she gained clinical experience in both hospital and private practice settings, working in the cardiac rehabilitation program, heart failure service and mental health unit at Nepean Hospital. And at the ACU Exercise and Lifestyle Clinic working with clients with neurological conditions, cancer and chronic musculoskeletal injuries.

Since graduating, Andrea enjoys working with a variety of clients. She has a particular interest in treating musculoskeletal injuries and neurological conditions, striving to help people increase their functional capacity to get them back to work, sport or the things they love doing.