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What's Up With All Of This Popping And What Does It Mean?

Since I have been in the health profession, I can expect most people I encounter to ask me a question like this: “I get weird popping, snapping, or cracking noises each time I move this. Is it bad? What is going on?"

Is it bad? Of course it is. Some may tell you otherwise, but if one day your car made a funny noise when you turned left, would you suspect something was wrong?

Sometimes, a tight tendon that runs over some structures, such as the side of your hip, can cause a snapping noise. On other occasions, a knee out of alignment that doesn't track properly can cause that noise when you straighten or bend it. Does it hurt? It may or may not hurt, but it does mean that something in your body isn’t lining up correctly. A joint may have positioned itself incorrectly or is restricted due to tight or weak structures.

What these weird noises in your body probably mean is that your joint is UNSTABLE. The necessary structures to prevent increased movement may have undergone some changes or tears, become weak or are overused.

Some unstable joints can cause a locking up feeling when they move out of place just far enough. The same goes for your feet, hands, hips, knees, ankles, back, neck, and shoulders.

Long term, these unstable joints may increase shear forces and can grind out of your joints. So what’s the definition of arthritis? It’s just that.

What can you do about joints that are unstable? You exercise them and work on postural and stability exercises. For example, when a knee cap continues to pop out of place, you need to perform strengthening exercises for the muscles surrounding the knee cap. This would ensure that the muscles are strong enough to keep the kneecap in place.

Go see a licensed professional to have your specific concerns checked out immediately. Waiting for the noise to go away can cause greater harm than you expect.

In some cases, a joint that isn’t moving or a bone that isn’t gliding correctly needs to be moved and in some instances, it needs to be adjusted into the correct place. So instead of trying to correct it, please do me a favor and leave it to the professionals to take a look and to align it, if needed.

Remember, we can and we will get better together!

Dr. Justin C. Lin


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