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Surgery for Cracking and Popping

in Southfield, MI

Surgery for Cracking and Popping?

By: Stephanie Ruopp

Did you know that antelopes deliberately use knee clicking to demonstrate they are worthy fighters?

But, of course, you’re not an antelope.

And if you have popping knees – or any other popping or cracking body part – you may be concerned enough to consider surgery for cracking and popping.

You may want to hold off on that.

Especially if you’re not experiencing pain around the popping.

Why Does Your Body Pop?

Noisy joints are pretty common. Especially as we age.

And on most occasions where there is noise without a lot of discomfort, the cause is physiological rather than a pathological.

In other words, unless you’re experiencing pain, you probably don’t need to worry too much if certain parts of your body sound like the percussion section of the orchestra.

But why your body is popping is still an issue that’s under debate. And there are actually two possible sources for the sound.


For a long time, the most widely accepted theory was that the popping and cracking you hear in the body was the result of nitrogen air bubbles being compressed in the space between the joints.


But more recently, a 2015 study revealed that that may not be the case. Researchers used MRI technology to show that joint popping and cracking was not the release of air bubbles, but rather the creation of a small space between the bones.

This is referred to as tribonucleation.

For the science-minded among you, tribonucleation is a mechanism that produces small gas bubbles by way of making and breaking contact between solid surfaces immersed in a liquid containing dissolved gas.

When pressure is reduced, these small bubbles may then act as nuclei for the growth of bubbles. This can occur in the human body when engaged in light exercise or movement and is produced by the manipulation of human synovial joints.

Whatever the case, there is still more research needed to explain the exact process behind popping joints.


The joints may not be solely to blame for being the noise-makers.

Your tendons might be the culprit.

Tendons are the tissue structures that connect muscles to bone. When they move over bony protrusions and then quickly snap back into place, there’s an audible sound.

You might notice it in your knees when moving from a seated to a standing position. Or perhaps your knees crackle and pop when climbing the stairs as the tendons that cross the knee move over the joint.

Inflammation surrounding tendons can cause crunching, cracking, or popping sounds. If you’ve ever had bursitis, tennis elbow, or any other sort of tendinitis, you may be all too familiar with this.

But don’t let the word “inflammation” set off the warning bells just yet.

Do I Need Surgery for Cracking and Popping?

Full disclaimer here – we’re not medical professionals and don’t pretend to know what is right for you.

But before you jump into this huge decision, you may want to consider the natural ways the body ages.

As as we grow older, the muscles lose elasticity and decrease in both size and strength. At the same time, the tendons are getting shorter and tighter.

The resulting tension and tightness causes the tendons to come into contact with the bones more often. So the key is to RELEASE THE TENSION AND TIGHTNESS.

And how do you do that?

The Magic of Stretching

Remember when your gym teacher or coach drilled into your head the importance of stretching?

He or she wasn’t just whistling Dixie.

But when you were younger and more flexible, it may have seemed like a waste of time. Especially when you were ready to jump into the game or activity.

As a result, many of us never learned the the true value of stretching.

And once you age, you might feel less inclined to stretch because you’ve lost flexibility. Yoga instructors frequently hear people say that they can’t “do” yoga because they can’t touch their toes.

But that’s exactly the reason to stretch!

Releasing the tension and tightness within the muscles through long and gentle stretching decreases the negative pulling that the muscles exact upon the joints.

This, in turn, lessens the stress and allows the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones to move freely and collectively rather than attempting to move among the tension that has built up between them.

And it is this tension and pulling that creates the popping and the cracking.

It’s that simple.

So no matter how much you may dislike stretching, it may just bring more peace and quiet to your body (and mind) and potentially keep you out of the operating room too.

Is Your Body Speaking to You?

Ultimately, you and your doctor have to make the decision as to whether you will need surgery for cracking and popping. Especially if you’re feeling a lot of pain.

But if you feel that stretching could make a difference for you, contact us to talk with one of our highly trained Pilates instructors or physical therapists.

They can guide you on what will be the most beneficial movements to lubricate your joints and safely stretch your tendons and ligaments.

And you may be surprised how much easier it is to move through life with increased flexibility.