ZocdocAnswersMy joints pop constantly. My knees pop nearly every time I move. What does this mean?

Question

My joints pop constantly. My knees pop nearly every time I move. What does this mean?

My knees and back pop constantly. My shoulders, elbows, and feet also pop a lot. My knees pop almost every time I move. I have gone to three doctors and they say it is fine as long as there is no pain. I don't have any pain it just pops all the time but I don't feel like it is normal. It is a recent thing. I am only 25. I am worried about it but everyone just tells me its normal and not to worry. What do you think?

Answer

It is clear that you are very worried by these noises, but it is true that for most people noisy joints is actually normal. Still, I would recommend discussing your specific fears and concerns with a doctor whom you trust. The reason joints make popping noises is not entirely known, but scientists have a couple explanations. The first is that there are actually gases within the synovial fluid, which is the fluid contained in the joint that acts as a lubricant. When you move the joint this causes the joint capsule to stretch and in turn causes the gases to be released and form bubbles and make noise. Another possibility is that when you move the joint this also moves the tendons; when the tendons tighten it can cause a cracking noise, and when the tendon returns to its original position it returns with a snapping noise. Finally, if the joint itself is deformed and the cartilage is no longer smooth (as happens in arthritic joints), the movement of the rough joint surface can cause a noise. All of this is to say that your doctors are probably right that noises without pain is unlikely to be a problem, since even very young people can have pain in their joints and it is not clearly a sign of arthritis or any ongoing problem within the joint. However, if you continue to be concerned, or if you develop new symptoms such as pain, I think it is definitely the right thing to bring it up with your doctor. I would also try to find one doctor who you trust who you can discuss this with, rather than finding many doctors. You seem to be very concerned about this issue despite everyone's reassurances, so I would recommend discussing your specific fears and concerns with a doctor whom you trust as they may be better able to address your worry.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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