The cracking, snapping and popping are sounds from the elbow are simply associated with movement. When elbow cracks do occur, they do not require any form of treatment but if it is accompanied by swelling or pain, it is best to seek immediate medical assessment before the individual will resume his/her exercise routine. This is important so that the exact cause can be determined early.
Why cracks and pops occur
When an individual works out, he/she might hear only a single elbow crack or pop or several in a sequence. The other joints such as the knees, ankles or neck can also produce cracking or popping sounds when the individual works out.
The elbow can feel stiff or in a locked up state before the cracking noise is produced and then normal after the cracking noise ceases. In some cases, the elbow cracks can be accompanied by additional symptoms such as bruising, severe pain and distortion of the elbow joint.
What is the pressure valve?
The accumulation of gases in the synovial fluid in the elbow joint can result to cracking or popping sounds after engaging in a workout as the pressure in the joint is released through flexion, stretching or moving it.
The popping or cracking of the elbow can occur from the friction as the tendons, bone or ligaments rub against each other or if there is loss of cartilage which occurs if the individual is suffering from osteoarthritis. If the individual falls while working out or performing incorrect lifting techniques using weights or presses, it can cause the dislocation of the elbow which produces a sound once the dislocation occurs.
What is considered normal?
The elbow cracks that occur due to the buildup of gases in the synovial fluid do not require any special form of treatment. Take note that this is a usual side effect of moving the joint during workout. If the individual has osteoarthritis, anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen can be taken prior to a workout or a corticosteroid is prescribed by a doctor to minimize the swelling that causes the bones in the elbow to rub on each other and produce noises. If you want to learn ways to manage the symptoms, click here.
In case the cracking of the elbow was caused by the dislocation of the joint, pain relievers and muscle relaxants are prescribed before the bones are realigned. Surgical treatment is needed for damaged ligaments, blood vessels, nerves or fractured bones related to a dislocated elbow. The surgery will be followed by physical therapy in order to improve the movement and strength before the individual can resume workouts for the upper body.
The arms must be stretched before a workout in order to warm up the joints and muscles to prevent sore strains and dislocations that can cause elbow cracks. Even alternative medicine practices such as acupuncture and chiropractic treatments can help reduce the elbow cracks while working out. Just make sure that the individual will consult a doctor first.