SNAP, CRACKLE, AND POP
One of the most common complaints we hear in the world of orthopedics is regarding the symphony of noises our bones, muscles, and connective tissues make. Sometimes these noises happen without any associated pain. Other times the noises happen at the time of trauma. Often times, patients can create the noise with a certain movement or action. The noises could be so soft that only the person whose body is producing the noise can hear it, but sometimes these noises are audible to anyone in close proximity.
Typically, the rule of thumb in our world is: If the noise isn’t painful, it isn’t immediately concerning. If the snap, crackle, pop is associated with some discomfort and happens repeatedly or even just once but with a great degree of trauma, a consult with one of our board-certified orthopedic physicians is warranted.
Some of the most audible cracks exhibited by the body occur at the time of a fracture and sometimes result in a visible bony abnormality that warns expedited medical attention. Traumatic popping in the shoulder joint is often heard if the joint dislocates (or even temporarily subluxates) or if some general instability is present due to soft tissue damage. Probably the most common traumatic popping sensation people feel and hear is when the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee is ruptured. The noise is typically heard by, not only the patient, but also those folks in the general vicinity. Such a pop almost always comes with pain, swelling, and a lack of function. However, not all noises in the body require orthopedic attention.
The not-so-traumatic origin of some of these noises could result from a particularly tight tendon snapping over a bony prominence such as those that can occur at the hip that is caused by overly tight soft tissue (like tendons and muscles) ‘snapping’ over a bony prominence on the pelvis. After a surgical procedure, an excess of scar tissue is formed by the body at the site of the procedure and could make a popping noise as it breaks up in the weeks and months to follow. Popping and clicking in a joint could be caused by bony changes like arthritis, cartilage or meniscus damage, or an accumulation of air in the synovial (or joint) fluid being released. As long as these noises are not accompanied by pain, swelling, or decreased function, daily activity can continue normally. If those snaps, crackles, and pops begin to cause discomfort, it’s time to come see the friendly faces at Orthopaedic Associates of Wisconsin.
Regardless of the extent of the cacophony of noises you hear while stravaging through your days, if you are concerned about the integrity of your musculoskeletal system, give us a call to see a specialist for further evaluation and treatment today!
This blog is written by one of our very own-Morgan. She is a certified athletic trainer working as a medical assistant with our providers each and every day in our clinic. She obtained a bachelor's degree in athletic training from Carroll University in Waukesha and a master's degree in Kinesiology from Michigan State University. She is excited to bring you updates and information about the happenings at OAW.