Have you ever wondered why joints pop?

Or what happens when your Osteopath ‘cracks’ your back?

This video shows a knuckle cracking. The sound is made when gas is released from the fluid in the joint into the joint space.

After the pop it takes about 15 minutes for the gas particles to rearrange themselves before the joint can pop again.

If your Osteopath feels that your symptoms are related to joint stiffness they might use a  manipulation technique which can create this cracking sound. Research suggests that manipulating a joint like this can restore normal joint movement and relax muscles helping with pain, stiffness and inflammation.

There is no evidence that regular ‘self-manipulation’ of a joint can lead to arthritis BUT in our experience this need to regularly crack your joints can indicate underlying mobility problems. If in doubt come to see us for advice.

Some snapping sounds can come from tendons or ligaments flicking over bony points. Unlike the knuckle cracking example these sounds can be repeated by performing the same movement again. You might notice this particularly in your shoulders and hips. This snapping isn’t anything to worry about unless it’s painful but try to avoid it if possible. Stretching and strengthening muscles can help.

The final type of joint noise you might notice is that creaking grinding sound that you can get when moving a joint, especially in the knees. We call this crepitus and it happens when the joint surfaces get roughened. It’s quite common and often nothing to worry about, but can sometimes  signify some wear and tear in the joint or poor joint function

If you have any concerns about the health of your joints or your spine feel free to get in touch. We always take time to talk to you and make a detailed examination so that we can give you the best advice and treatment possible.


01752 (347663)


Blog Author – PIA MUDALIAR BSc (Ost) CNHC registered


Pia qualified with a degree in Osteopathy in 1994 and set up the P.O.C. with Mike a few years later. She worked as an Osteopath until the birth of her second son, when she took a career break, returning to work as a Massage Therapist in 2008.

Pia has a unique style. Her background in osteopathy means that she can offer a professional and clinical approach, whilst her years of experience and high levels of empathy enable her to work intuitively. Each therapy session is tailor made to the individual, using techniques ranging form effleurage to deeper soft tissue and fascial release, joint articulation and muscle energy technique.

Pia also teaches a women’s yoga class at Space to Move in Plymouth.