Got Noisy Joints?

joint pain and stiffnessSometimes you move like a well-oiled machine, and other times your body creaks like a rusty ten-speed, writes Stacey Collino in the August issue of Oprah Magazine. The body sounds and sensations we sometimes hear and feel are known as crepitus according to Joel Press, MD, at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. While they may cause worry, they’re typically harmless, he says.

A cracking or popping sound in your ankles or hips when you move after sitting for a long time could be a tight tendon snapping against the bone. A popping or grinding sound in your neck can happen when your vertebrae shift and release. A clicking or snapping in your shoulder is due to normal movement of ligaments and tendons as they glide over bony surfaces—after which you may notice an increased range of motion. Ever wondered about the sound when you crack your knuckles? There’s no risk in doing this, Press says. That’s just air or gas bubbles being released in the synovial fluid around the joint.

But cracking in your neck or grinding in your knees could signal age-related joint degeneration. Cartilage wears down over time and joint areas can start to rub against one another. This is common and isn’t serious on its own, Press says. However, when these sounds are accompanied by pain, swelling, severe stiffness, redness, or bruising, they may be sounding an alarm about torn cartilage or arthritis, and should move you to action.

Tiffany Field, PhD, a research psychologist at the University of Miami Medical School, has conducted a number of studies on the benefits of massage. In her research and other recent studies on the effects of massage for arthritis symptoms, regular massage led to improvements in pain, stiffness, range of motion, hand grip strength, and overall function of the joints. Any type of full-body massage therapy that involves moderate pressure should help relieve arthritis pain and ease tension, she says.

At Massage Therapy Center Palo Alto, we see the tremendous benefit regular massage provides in reducing muscle tension and stiffness, as well as swelling, inflammation, and pain. And because massage increases nutrient and oxygen delivery to all tissues in the body and promotes relaxation, it supports your overall healing and well-being.