Crackling and snapping?

Hi - I know someone did ask this a while ago but I thought I'd try it again and see what you all say. Ever since the RA started for me 18 months ago I've been going snap, crackle pop and wondered if this is just the result of my getting older and being newly post menopausal or whether it's the RA. I find it quite disturbing when I move and things snap loudly but I know this happens to some non-RAers too from the exercises we do in my choir. But just lately I've been feeling like a small percussion band! Does anyone know if this is RA or OA or just what I should expect. My husband is a year older than me and he's not like a bowl of rice crispies when he moves about?!

29 Replies

Hi Tilda,

Yes I asked about cracking fingers, not many replies, let's hope you have more luck.

Will read with interest.

Mary x


Oh yes I forgot my finger cracks too!


Hi Tilda, sometimes my neck snaps, my wrists crackle but thankfully nothing has popped yet. I do have a clunky hip though! I think it's a mix of RA and OA and keep taking the Omega 3 fish oils in the hope of oiling my hinges.

Paula x

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i get popping in my kness, especially if i have had them in the same position for a while. my left shoulder sometimes makes a grinding, crunching noise and my ankles crunch and click too. the worst popping i've had is in my hips and that can also happen when i'm walking, i can sometimes feel a 'hip pop' building up because theres a tight stiff sensation, before i developed joint pains i had a bit of popping, but i think there's more now - i don't think it's just because i'm more aware of it either - i never knee


I think it must just be me then. It's not that it hurts or feels uncomfortable but it is a tad embarassing when you move about in a quiet room and everything clicks. The first time I became aware of it was when my rheumy first examined my knees and everytime he moved them they clicked. He said "hmm your knees are very clicky aren't they? " and I'm sure if they had always been clicky I would have noticed before but all this and OA in my top finger joints only started with the RA. But then my RA started after my menopause started so not sure what comes first and if I'll just get noisier and noisier as I get older so I feel like I'm sing "these bones these bones" with joints keeping the rhythm going! Tilda xxx


hi tilda, cant answer the question but i get this as well, maybe its something to do with the joints not getting their natural lubrication, thats what i put it down to anyway, will ask r/nurse next week, if i remember lol,, take care ,sue x


Yes that would be so useful Sue because I have no rheumy nurse to ask!

Tilda x


hi, will make a note now so i dont forget, [ memory not like it use to be ha ha] hope you dont mind me asking, why hav,nt you got a r/nurse,? take care, sue x


I don't mind you asking at all - it's because I live on an island and my Aberdeen based consultant tells me there is a shortage of rheumatology nurses in Scotland generally and therefore none accessible to RA patients where I live. I think it's different if you are on Biologics though. I do have a moving and handling officer who is a physio and I can email her but she just relays my emails to the consultant who gets back to her so she is more of a go between really.she and my consultant did tell me that if I have problems or questions I should see her as an acting rheumy nurse but I don't like to under the circs as she's not specialist trained or experienced as a rheumy nurse is i.e seeing RA patients all the time and don't want her to keep pestering my rheumy. I'm viewed as trouble enough I suspect! I will ask my GP when I see him next week perhaps. Tilda xx


Hi Tilda, you have just described me!

I snap,crackle and pop too.

It's worse when I get out of bed or move around after sitting.

My feet and ankles, hands, wrists, knees, neck and shoulders all sing a merry tune.

It's not painful as you say, just weird.

I asked the podiatrist the other day, and she said that I have a degree of hypomobility in my joints, and that could be the cause.

I also got trigger finger the other night. The physio said it's to do with the swelling in my hands.

I am a similar age to you I think...54, and I developed oa in my hands at the same time as RA.

This all happened after I'd been going through the menopause for about 7 years.

It's weird how it all happened together.

And there was me congratulating myself that I was surely coming to the end of the menopause without taking hrt!

Little did I know that my body was storing up extra treats for me to cope with :(

It does make me wonder whether the trigger for me was hormonal, as it's not in my family, as far as I know.

Nic x


I'm entirely sure it was hormonal for me although I guess it was probably lying dormant somewhere in me waiting to trigger. I'm hypothyroid as well and no one else in my family has that either although heart problems and diabetes abound.

I'm actually a mere stripling of 49 (!!!) but my late mum told me just before she died that she too had an early menopause - finished by the age of 49 and entirely uneventful like and mine - no HRT etc. She did used to complain of rheumatism off and on - especially in her knees and ankles so I often wonder if she didn't also have very mild RA. And she died suddenly of an undiagnosed heart problem that i think was angina - but I also wonder if that wasn't RA related now I know I've got it.

A couple of times her feet became terribly swollen and excruciatingly painful so she could hardly walk on them. My dad had gout and I recall asking her if this could be gout but she said that the emergency people at the airport (she traveled about a lot) when it happened both times said they didn't think it was gout but could be arthritis She hated going to the doctor as had other problems with her gut that had hospitalised her a lot earlier on. I'll never know now of course. I think my Gran (her mum) had RA undiagnosed as well but she died in a car crash with my grandad just as she was being assessed so that's another thing I'll never know! Tilda xx


hi, wow that seems a lot of effort to get your treatment and advice, we dont know how lucky we are when we can just hop on a bus or in a car and be there in a matter of minutes, it s the kind of thing i associate with australia and other places that are remote, you must feel quite isolated at times, and very cut off and bitterly cold in the winters, on the programmes that i have seen about the islands, they all say they would,nt change it, and most of them have had all their past family there, it seems a hard life, yet close knit communities, [which we dont have here] i can now understand why it is so hard for you , and i suppose sites like this are a big help, at least on here you can always get some friendly advice, and chat with others in the same position, [health wise] , take care, sue x


But where she lives is so so beautiful. I'm just back from the islands and am going through my photos. Unbelievable. I also think that in late November with several months of summer to go, I'd start to feel rather isolated too. But I can also imagine that chronic conditions are particularly tricky - emergencies I suppose you just get flown somewhere more specialised. But our chronic problems are more difficult to keep on top of.


Yes it's a lot of effort and this site is completely invaluable to me. That's why I'll protect it with all my might and main because without it I feel sure i'd have done some crazy things like moving to the mainland - despite the fact that I have 2 sons still in full time education there (I say there because I'm holidaying in Edinburgh currently!) and a husband with a relatively safe, well paid job. I also have a great and very knowledgeable GP and a good rheumy in Aberdeen but the problem is not having access to any specialist services apart from rare meetings with my rheumy. So far it's been almost 8 months since we last met face to face and I was examined and diagnosed by him. That is in breach of guidelines and I've received an apology for this from the Medical Director of our health authority. This site has definitely kept me sane. Tilda xxx


hi, yes , its helped me since i join too, and you dont want to be doing anything crazy like moving, i agree, the plus side of where you live is to have a gp who knows you, sometimes in our surgery we have short stay docs, its not good, and i suppose when you get into the swing of things it works fine, as you say this site certainly helps you keep your sanity where would we be without it, take care ,sue x


Hi, I think this cracking noise is called Crepitus, which is a lovely word because I often feel deCrepit!

I hear it loudly in my neck. It was quite scary until the Physio said, that's because your ears are very close to your neck. The sound has less far to travel.

My Mother in Law has amazingly loud knees. (I can't believe I wrote that, it sounds like a Goon Show script).

Anyway, I believe it probably gets worse if you don't move your joints enough. My Mum in law is frail, 94 and chair bound, so her knees are terrible.

Crepitus is common to OA as well as RA. But I don't think it is particularly harmful. But someone may come along soon and say it might be.

I do agree with you, this site is amazingly helpful. I can come here and whinge, or just lurk and see how others are coping with RA. I have learned all sorts here, and got lots of reassurance.


yep me too , my neck, crunching and clicking. I asked doc & she said its nothing to worry about! its not her though is it?


I move about all the time and am fitter by far than I was 18 months ago so that doesn't make much sense in relation to me because apart from when I'm flaring or having horrible drug side effects I should be feeling less decrepitude - how unfair to be cracking and clicking at this stage - heaven only knows what I will be like it if I reach 94. I'll be a family record breaker by several decades if I do though as no one out of either set of grandparents or parents has lived beyond 73 among my lot. So maybe it will be fitting that I crackle loudly in celebration by then!? Tilda xxx


My left toes & neck pop & crack all the time, and sometimes my knee & thumbs creak-like a stuck door in horror movies. I exercise 3 times a week so I don't think cracking is a factor from that. Maybe I'm just out of alignment so need to see a chiropracter.



Hi Christine - well it does sound as though we both need a good tin man style oiling doesn't it?! I suppose it goes hand in hand with the RA and stiffness because I don't think I have OA yet but did wonder if it was just a normal part of ageing and I was maybe just being oversensitive to this as we all can be with RA. I don't think I'm out of alignment but I do feel increasingly like I've been dismantled and out back together slightly out of sync but then again that could just be me! TTx


Phoebe is right - it is crepitus, and yes, I can crack and pop most of my joints, whether I want to or not! It is usually thought to be the loss of cartilage around the joint surfaces that causes it, but I've heard a lot of random theories, too.

Sara xx


So does that mean it is down to ageing/ wear and tear rather than RA then Sooty? TTxx


I've had noisy knees (grinding sound) as long as I can remember. Originally put down to chondromalacia patellae (can't spell it) i.e. knee cap moves around a bit too much. Then with inflammatory arthritis both knees became even noisier. I don't think the knee that has OA as well is noisier than its companion!

Last year my neck started making a suspiciously knee-like sound for a while. (The more I think about it the more I feel that my inflammatory arthritis has been waiting in the wings a long while). However the neck has been quiet since then. I was wondering how these things can come and go as it seems to be a mechanical problem we are stuck with. Then I read Phoebe's post above.

Did you see the programme on TV a couple of nights ago about centenarians? One unbelievably youthful woman (over a hundred years old) attributed her longevity to walking everywhere. And she swims. Of course I realise there's more to her health & long life than exercise but peoples' experiences from this forum alone are making me think that the right kind & amount of exercise is as near to a panacea as you can get.

(Hope typing counts!)

Christina x


yep ive had clunky knees for ages and kept me quads strong with swimming then everyting started to swell up later mri showed nowt wrong with knees but rumi man said walk slowly but they still swell up and ankle goes in on them i was told chondromalacia patellae so how come not showing on mri now me ankle is giving way can anyone tel me what mtx med is and after effect cos i hate tabs exept parasetomol


Hi Minka,

I was diagnosed with chondromalacia patellae nearly 30 years ago, I suppose and I can hardly remember what the symptoms were! Certainly it never bothered me much. The only treatment I received was a few physio sessions to strengthen quads and advice e.g. don't twist knees- do the crawl, not breaststroke when swimming - and don't put too much strain on them by standing on pedals when cycling etc.

I think that the grinding noise and sometimes a bit of swelling was as bad as it got.

When my left knee swelled up hugely before Christmas I was sent to an Orthopaedic surgeon on the assumption that it was the same old problem or at least a bit of Osteoarthritis caused by the years of CP. Even when I got typical inflammatory arthritis symptoms in May, the GP just sent me back to the Orthopaedic surgeon .... I had to push to get sent to a Rheumatologist.

What tests have you had for RA other forms of inflammatory arthritis? I remember reading another post by you & gathered that you were very fed up with your knees swelling as a result of activity. But I'm not quite sure from your comment here whether you have or haven't been diagnosed with RA or whether you are on MTX.

I think that Chondromalacia Patellae can be more annoying than it has been for me. But if you think you have RA or have recently been diagnosed with it why don't you blog about it or write a question & I know you will get lots of advice and ideas.

All the best,



hi christna



i think walking over on the right leg cos the left one is the worst like compensating is doing me no good

but everything feels dryed up this morning with not much inflamation in their

when i shake me right leg you can here it rattle underneath ive shown it to a few mates to see if im not hereing thing and they can hear it to.

shed any light on these blood test or what blood tests should i be asking for this thursday


Re. your question to Sooty - I was told by Rheumatologist that the OA in my left knee is 'Secondary' OA i.e. that it looks just like OA, it effectively is the same as OA but caused by the RA's (or PA's) destructive effect on cartilage rather than 'normal' wear and tear over time. So might be hard to say which 'A' is most to blame for crepitus.

C x


It amuses me about myself that I would rather the clicky crepitus that now resounds whenever I move - and as I've said I do move a lot - is due to RA than OA. Somehow OA represents ageing where RA represents something the MTX and Hydroxy mix I'm on might be able to keep at bay? I'm only 49 and feel quite youthful some of the time (depending which joints are a problem if any) and RA seems pretty ageless comparatively. I am a firm believer in exercise and specifically in walking for me as I find it keeps me mobile. Being an artist is a sedentary lifestyle and I let myself get terribly overweight over the years so am now trying to make up for lost time. Snap crackle here I come! TT x


Ps and my joints don't grind they just crack and click and no part of me is exempt!


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