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Crepitus is a medical term to describe the grating, crackling or popping sounds and sensations experienced under the skin and joints or a crackling sensation due to the presence of air in the subcutaneous tissue.
Various types of crepitus that can be heard in joint pathologies are:
*Bone crepitus: This can be heard when two fragments of a fracture are moved against each other.
*Joint crepitus: This can be obtained when the affected joint is passively moved with one hand, while the other hand is placed on the joint to feel the crepitus.
*Crepitus of bursitis: This is heard when the fluid in the bursa contains small, loose fibrinous particles.
Crepitus of tenosynovitis. In most cases, crepitus is harmless if it occurs in normal people. But if crepitus is associated with an injury, or, if there is knee pain or swelling, then further investigations are required.
Crepitus, or joint sounds, can be a normal part of movement. Many people experience popping joints, especially as they get older. You may notice:
*Popping or cracking when you bend your knee or elbow
*Crunching sounds in your knee when you go up or down stairs or kneel
*Crackling or grinding sounds or a crunching sensation when you move your shoulder
*Occasional or continual swelling around the joint
How to protect the nee:
Orthopedic surgeons say that the best way to protect the knee is to warm up prior to exercise. By strengthening the quadriceps, one can decrease the load on the patellofemoral joint and also reduce the risk of eroding the cartilage. Other means of protecting the knee include stretching and wearing suitable shoes. It is also important to maintain a healthy weight to decrease stress on the knee joint.
If crepitus occurs during exercise, one should:
* Not stop but modify the exercise
* Avoid running on hills or inclines
* When cycling, maintain tension on the pedals
* If you are using quadriceps to lift weights, use lightweights and increase the frequency
Finally during an exercise listen to your body, if you develop pain, stop the activity.
The sound can be created when two rough surfaces in an organism’s body come into contact—for example, in osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis when the cartilage around joints erodes and the surfaces in the joint grind against one another, or when the fractured surfaces of two broken bones rub together. Crepitus is a common sign of bone fracture.
Crepitus can easily be created and observed by exerting a small amount of force on a joint, thus ‘cracking it’. This is caused by bubbles of nitrogen forming in the synovial fluid bursting. Almost every joint in the body can be ‘cracked’ in this way, but the joints which require the least amount of effort include the hallux, knuckles and neck joints.
In soft tissues, crepitus can be produced when gas is introduced into an area where it is normally not present.
The term can also be used when describing the sounds produced by lung conditions such as interstitial lung disease—these are also referred to as “rales”. Crepitus is often loud enough to be heard by the human ear, although a stethoscope may be needed to detect instances caused by respiratory diseases.
In times of poor surgical practice, post-surgical complications involved anaerobic infection by Clostridium perfringens strains, which can cause gas gangrene in tissues, also giving rise to crepitus.
Subcutaneous crepitus (or surgical emphysema) is a crackling sound resulting from subcutaneous emphysema, or air trapped in the subcutaneous tissues.
Treating Crepitus in the Knee, Shoulder or Other Joints:
Many causes of joint popping and cracking improve with home remedies, like taking anti-inflammatory medications or using the RICE method (rest, ice, compression and elevation). Other causes might require a doctor’s help.
Noninvasive Treatments for Crepitus:
Your doctor will talk with you about possible treatments, including:
*Bracing or splinting: Sometimes, a brace or splint can help align the joint so an injury can heal.
Physical therapy: Our physical therapy teams tailor treatment plans to your condition, activities and goals. Get more information about physical therapy.
*Custom orthotics: Orthotics – special shoe inserts that stabilize the foot and knee – can relieve pain and help you stay active. Learn more about custom foot orthotics.
*Pain relief: We take pain management very seriously. Handled correctly, pain relief methods can eliminate discomfort and inflammation and may let you get back to your favorite activities safely. Read more about orthopedic pain we treat.
Surgical Options to Eliminate Pain-Causing Crepitus:
Some causes of crepitus might require surgical treatment. We’ll advise you on the least invasive treatment to relieve joint pain and minimize future damage. You might consider:
*Arthroscopic surgery: Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery that uses small instruments inserted through tiny incisions to access the joint. For PFS, your surgeon can remove bits of damaged tissue or reposition tendons to provide more knee movement. Learn more about treatments for knee pain.
*Debridement: Some types of PFS and arthritis improve with debridement. In this minimally invasive surgery, the surgeon can smooth damaged cartilage to reduce rubbing.
*Joint replacement: When arthritis or joint damage is advanced, you might consider joint replacement. Joint replacement surgery implants an artificial joint in place of a damaged joint. Find out more about orthopedic medicine and orthopedic surgery.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.