Cracking and Twisting Bones

Patient

Q: My bones crack all the time, especially my ankles when I walk or even squat. My knees, elbows, wrists and inner thighs crack too. What could be the cause of this?

Also, I have a habit of cracking my knuckles and I've noticed that my nail down to the first knuckle on my fore and middle fingers on both hands have twisted the way I have been cracking them. Is that definitely from the cracking and if so, is there any way to fix it?



Symptoms:  Cracking, Twisted bones
Doctor

A:   Thank you for your question. Cracking of the joints is a common phenomenon and is often benign and not a cause for concern. The cause of this is not fully identified but there are a few theories as to why this happens. When articulating joints are moving, the repositioning of the bones results in a cracking or 'popping' sound. Another possibility is that this sound may be caused by the movements of ligaments or tendons as the joint articulates. These sounds could also be caused by the rapid movement of synovial fluid in and out of the joint as it moves.
What concerns is that you noticed a your fingers have become twisted or bent as a result of this cracking. It may not be due to the intentional cracking but actual an early sign of the development of rheumatoid arthritis. We are not completely certain of this based on your description, however, it is important that you have your fingers examined by your doctor, as well as the rest of your joints, as a means to rule out rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, if you begin to feel pain when you hear your back cracking, then we would like you to have this checked by your doctor as this could be an early sign of other pathological issues with your joints.

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