One of the most common questions that we’re asked at our cervical and lumbar spine specialty practice in New Jersey is about the remarkable amount of noise that patients hear coming from their back. If it seems like every time you bend over or stretch you hear what sounds like castanets coming from your spine, then you’re probably wondering what’s going on too. There are a few theories as to why this happens.
The most commonly-held belief about what makes our joints snap and pop sounds is gas escaping from air pockets in your joints. Also known as synovial fluid, this specialized gas serves as a lubricant for our joints, nourishing cartilage and helping everything slide smoothly the way that it is supposed to. Stretching puts pressure on these joints, allowing small pockets of the gas to leak out and make the popping noise.
Historically, the most widely believed theory comes down to pockets of gas that hang out in your joints. This isn’t the same kind of gas that escapes from your body after you’ve had a ton of beans. This gas comes from a lubricant inside your joints known as synovial fluid, which helps give nutrients to the cartilage in your joints to help them glide smoothly. Wondering what happens after the gas escapes? It gets reabsorbed by the body.
Another theory on why your back is making noises that it didn’t before may mean that you have lost cartilage in the area where the sound is coming from, keeping them from sliding as smoothly as they once did and causing the sound.
The good news is that as long as the noise that you’re hearing isn’t accompanied by pain, then it doesn’t really matter what the cause is. If it hurts, that’s another story. The sound is likely a sign that the discs between your vertebrae have started to dessicate, or to lose some of their water content. This is an indication that they may be less flexible than they once were, and more vulnerable to herniation or slipping. If that is the case, then you may want to begin doing some gentle stretches to loosen up stress and tightness in the muscles that surround your spine and get into the habit of getting up and moving around more frequently to avoid stiffness.
If you need the help of professionals, contact us.