Your Feet and Cracking Sounds
There is not a doubt that everyone from time-to-time experiences a “cracking” sound in their feet; this sound can be referred to as joint popping. Joint popping is quite common and there is usually no reason to fear that something is wrong.
As we walk cracking sounds may be heard, but this most likely occurs when the foot is moved beyond its normal range of motion. It is more common to hear cracking when you stretch or roll your foot. Pops and cracks are normal in this case because the motions require the bones and ligaments to stretch. If you have ever gently stretched your toes back and forth then you inevitably have heard cracks coming from your toes.
Causes of Cracking
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There are two main reasons why our joints crack. The bones in our joints are surrounded by synovial fluid which lubricates and prevents bones from rubbing against one another. Synovial fluid contains three gases: oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. These gases form bubbles when the joint capsule is stretched. A popping sound is heard when oxygen bubbles are released. The other reason why joints crack is related to movement of the ligaments or tendons. Ligaments or tendons can tangle or they can excessively tighten and when this happens, you hear a gentle pop as they return to their normal position.
Some cracking and popping scenarios that you need to be wary of include:
Pain - When you experience repeated popping or cracking and it causes you pain then something may be wrong. This is a possible indication that a structural joint problem exists and this needs to be treated.
Locked joint – If the joint becomes locked when it pops or cracks then there is a possibility that something may be caught between joint surfaces. A piece of torn bone or cartilage may be the cause. Once a joint is stuck then it will need to be manipulated to unlock it – and this will cause a pop.
Rupture - If there is a serious rupture of a tendon or ligament then this can create a popping sound. If this happens it can be painful.
Swelling – If you experience any swelling at the site of ‘cracking’ then this needs to be looked at by a qualified health professional.
Arthritis – You may have arthritis in the foot and arthritic joints makes sounds. This is caused by the roughness of the joint surface and the loss of smooth cartilage causing the bone to grind on bone.
(Many people experience pain in the toes and are not sure what is going on. Toe arthritis in caused by inflammation of the toe joints. It tends to attack the big toe more than the other toes. Past injuries or traumas can be reason why arthritis can hit later in life. Other culprits include gout, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Risk factors include women who frequently wear tight, high-heel shoes, being overweight, increased age and family history of arthritis.)
Bottom line, joint popping usually occurs when a joint is manipulated beyond its normal range of motion yet it is possible for pops and cracks to sound during normal movement of the foot. This should not cause you pain. If it does, and more to the point, if it frequently causes you pain, then you need to seek qualified professional help. Chiro-Med Rehab Centre can help you.
Established in 2007 by Dr. Behfar Sanjari, Chiro-Med Rehab Centre has been committed to providing quality health care services to the Greater Toronto Area for over half a decade. Chiro-Med Rehab Centre has qualified professionals who can help evaluate you. We have clinics located in Richmond Hill and Newmarket, visit Chiro-Med online or call 905-918-0419 or 905-235-0419 for more information.