Snapping Joints...What Does It Mean?

Every dancer knows exactly what I'm going to talk about today.

Have you ever experienced snapping or popping joints?

Most dancers, and some athletes, have. It has become a pretty normal annoyance to have to deal with. However, does it actually mean something is wrong? That is what we are going to talk about.

A lot of the time, snapping joints are totally benign. Though, there are times when this popping can be from an injury. They usually snap or pop due to one or more of these reasons:

  1. The snapping of a tendon over a bony surface

  2. Inflammation

  3. Cartilage tear

  4. Tendon tear or strain

  5. Ligament tear or strain

  6. Fracture

  7. Joint dislocation

A lot of those options sound pretty scary, however, like I said before, most of the time the snapping sound you are hearing is not due to an injury. You want to make sure that you know what type of popping you are hearing. If it is painless and happens often, you are probably in the clear. But, if you feel pain and the area instantly swells and becomes hot or red, you are most likely looking at an injury.

For example, snapping hip syndrome is when the Iliotibial (IT) band becomes inflamed and starts to rub against the hip bone when the leg is flexed and extended. Most of the time, this is completely harmless. However, it can turn into an inflammatory injury if it becomes painful or swollen.

Another example is knee popping. Usually this popping is normal if you are getting up and it doesn't continue throughout the day. If it does continue throughout the day, it might be a tear in the meniscus of the knee. This cartilage can be torn if your knee twists when landing a jump. When you tear cartilage, it doesn't usually heal on its own because of the lack of blood supply. If you feel a locking in the joint, pain, swelling, redness, or heat around the area, you should get your knee checked out by a doctor.

Make sure you know what you are looking for and listen to your body. It will usually tell you if something is wrong. Just remember to look for swelling, discoloration, and pain. This is an indication that you have injured yourself and you should get it checked out by a doctor.

Don't push yourself too hard when exercising or training as this can put stress on your joints, tendons, and ligaments. Make sure you are drinking lots of water to keep them pliable and healthy. Stretching also helps release tight muscles which can pull on your tendons and ligaments.

I hope this helps you. Please let me know if you would like more information. You can also read more on various types of injuries and how to avoid them in A Dancer's Diary. Don't forget to enter the giveaway for your chance to win your own, signed copy!

Until next time,