Q. My knees have been cracking for a long time, but lately I've noticed my ankles and elbows sometimes crack and pop. Is this a sign of early arthritis?
A. The good news is that the usual painless joint cracking or popping does not represent an early form of arthritis, nor does it cause joint damage (despite what our mothers told us about cracking our knuckles). The cracking sound appears to come from tendons or muscles moving over the joint or from the popping of nitrogen bubbles normally found in the joint space.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.