Do your knee joints sometimes remind you of “Rice Krispies” cereal? You know, “Snap,” “Crackle,” and “Pop”? Regardless of your age, noisy knees are pretty common. But, if they’re constantly making music, should it be cause for concern?
A brand-new study is suggesting that knees that snap, crackle, and pop could be an early indicator of arthritis. But please don’t let that get you up in arms! The occasional crack when you’re participating in a yoga class or bending down to pick something up isn’t anything to worry about. It’s totally normal. But, if they are crackling with every step or are always making some noise, it could be an early warning sign for a more troublesome condition.
Noisy Knees and Arthritis
The study, published in the Arthritis Care & Research journal, examined the sounds of joints in roughly 3,500 middle-aged and older adults. Researchers found that those who reported knees that were “always noisy” had an 11% chance of developing knee arthritis within a year. Not a huge percentage, but something worth paying attention to. People who reported “never” or “sometimes” having noisy knees were less likely to develop arthritis, but the risk was never eliminated.
Until this study, crepitus (the official term for joint noises) wasn’t an officially recognized precursor to arthritis. And, while I’m not particularly sure I’d say this study proves that it is, I will say that it might be worthwhile to pay attention to what your noisy knees are saying. And I’ll recommend a couple of things that might help reduce the risk of, or even help treat, arthritis.
How to Decrease Your Risk of Knee Arthritis
1. Reduce the Stress
You can do your joints a favor by putting less stress on them every day. Trying to maintain a healthy weight, in addition to doing exercises to build some muscle around the joint, can help. Resistance training (weight training) is a great way to build and strengthen your muscles and joints. Alignment is also very important when performing weight training, so make sure your knees never face inward and that they track straight in line with your feet and hips.
2. See Your Doctor
When it comes to activity and exercise, it’s important to perform movements correctly to keep pressure off the joints. In order to do so, it’s advisable to first visit your doctor. Your doctor can measure your gait, assess pronation or supination of the feet, and make sure your feet line up with your knees and hips. They can help you make the right decision for shoes while offering alignment instruction to help lower the risk for joint damage in everyday life.
3. Eat Healthy
You can also focus on eating healthy, fresh foods and avoiding processed items. Processed foods are often low in nutrition and can lead to inflammation. Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats can provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects while promoting a healthy weight.
“Do Your Knees Crackle and Pop?” MedlinePlus, May 5, 2017; https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_165268.html, last accessed May 16, 2017.