T Nation

All this creaking and cracking!

I posted this question in response to another post (entitled “Sternum Problems”), but I’ll post it again here since I haven’t seen any replies yet. I’m 27 years old, and for the past 3 or 4 years I’ve had consistent increases in the amount of cracking in my back and neck. Now, MANY times per day, I can straighten out or arch my back and infinite little crackles will occur, mainly in my mid- to upper spine and the lower part of my neck. My neck itself can be cracked quite loudly (and almost shockingly) by lowering my head toward the left shoulder, and then toward the right shoulder, several times per day. AND, just in the past few months, when I’m in bed and have been lying on one side, when I roll over to the other side and pull my leg over my body into the normal resting position, by lower back will go, “KA-CHUNK!” REALLY loudly/violently. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s quite shocking, as this never used to happen. Everyone says, “Yeah, it’s fine, it’s just your joints releasing pressure or gas or something, don’t worry about it,” but I’m worried because it never USED to happen, and all of this back/neck cracking is sometimes necessary in order to be comfortable. In other words, a little pressue or tightness builds up, prompting me to crack it and relieve the pressure. It’s not really painful pressure, just annoying. Is everything OK, or are years of heavy lifting slowly crippling me or something?

go see a doctor

Well if you are truly concerned go see a doctor. Usually though, just noise is not a problem, but pain is.

Find a good chiropractor who has experience with athletics. Or go and see a few different ones, because the consultation is usually free. If you see a consistent trend in their diagnoses, you will at least know what is going on. An MD is unlikely going to be able to address your needs correctly. For musculoskeletal problems, a chiropractor is the way to go. Also, most insurance companies will cover chiropractic treatments now, so make sure you discuss this aspect with the chiropractor also.

I’ve noticed the same thing, and my chiropractor doesn’t seem to be concerned at all (though maybe he’s licking his chops at the prospect of long-term care).

whenever I squad down (not during squats tho) I can get my knees to do the cracking/poping sound. Then after like 3 times of doin ems they stop, then like a few mins later I can do that again. Also I can usually get my neck to make a cracking sound by twisting it, tho after a while it gives me a headache. Its been like this since I can remmember. My joints (knee) hurt a bit when I run… all I can think of that is similar to your situation.

I’ve had the same symptoms for a few years now too. I crack my spine all the time and also crack my elbows, wrists, a thumb, and knees/ankles. Guess it’s a sign of age, and wear and tear (44 yo). With the spine anyway, I’ve been told that in a way, it’s a good thing, as I apparently can crack and adjust my own spine without going to the chiro. Your vertabrae get slightly out of alignment, and this is common with age but if you can pop them back yourself, thats better than the people who cann’t and HAVE to go the chiro for an adjustment. You’re just self adjusting. When you cann’t crack and pop them YOURSELF anymore, then it’s time to worry.

The “gas” being released is Nitrogen. Whether or not a high protein diet has anything to do with the excess Nitrogen in your joints is beyond my limited knowledge on the subject. From my experience though, these symptoms tend to increase with age, but don’t have any serious implications. Of course, when in doubt, go see your doctor.