We're sure just about everyone has been told, during their childhood, that cracking their joints is dangerous and could cause arthritis.
However, according to Popular Science, this isn't exactly true as several studies have shown that the practice isn't harmful at all. In fact, a particular researcher made it a near lifelong aim to disprove this and cracked the knuckles on one hand for 60 years, with images later showing that there were no signs of any type of joint disease in either hand.
If you aren't purposely cracking your joints, then hearing noise from them could raise concern. But research also claims that there's hardly a reason to worry about that either.
Joints make a variety of sounds, such as popping, snapping, cracking, catching, clicking, grinding or grating. The technical term for a noisy joint is called "crepitus" and, while it is more common in older folk, people of all ages can experience it.
Hearing a noise from a joint, though, doesn't necessarily mean that something is wrong with you. Per the aforementioned publication, the formation of air bubbles between joints is the most common cause of crepitus.
The noise can occur where there is a layer of fluid separating the bones as air can reach those spaces when joints are forced apart by everyday movements or unnatural ones. When those movements happen, the low pressure in the joint space causes gases within the natural lubricant in the joint to form a cavity consisting of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide.
These sounds can leave one worried but, most of the time, it's just air.
There are times when concern is warranted, however. A grinding sound that's accompanied by pain should raise a red flag as it likely signals that cartilage has worn or is wearing away.
Joint diseases such as osteoarthritis do just that and if you experience the above symptoms, the joint should be investigated.
Most of the time, noisy joints that aren't painful shouldn't be cause for worry but if it happens over a prolonged period or causes pain, then it's probably a sign that you need to visit a doctor.