The body often makes strange sounds, including popping or cracking noises that come from the joints. Under many circumstances, these noises are harmless. Yet, when they occur in the lower back and they’re accompanied by pain, they should be investigated by a medical professional.
The lower back comprises the lumbar spine, as well as the sacroiliac joints, which bear weight. Oftentimes, issues in either of these areas are responsible for pain and popping noises. The sounds occur when gas that gets trapped in the synovial fluid of the joint is released. Synovial fluid acts as a lubricant, preventing bones from experiencing friction, which could ultimately lead to arthritis. This is a normal process, and the popping of air bubbles within synovial fluid should not cause pain.
If a tendon has moved out of place, however, it can also produce a sound when going back into position. The noise can also stem from strain in the ligaments, cartilage, or tendons around the joints. Finally, clicking noises can occur when the cartilage wears out and bones rub against each other. Commonly caused by osteoarthritis, or the “wear and tear” type of arthritis that appears with age, this condition is characterized by pain that may become severe over time.
Typically, the facet joints are damaged in osteoarthritis. Located in the lower back, these joints are small but support considerable weight. They can become compromised as a result of previous injury or general degeneration, as their cartilage wears away or the discs, which absorb the shock in the spine, tear.
Besides pain and popping or cracking sounds, symptoms of osteoarthritis in the back include:
- Tingling, numbness, or weakness in the extremities, as nerves in the spine become compressed.
Treating Osteoarthritis in the Back
If osteoarthritis is the suspected cause of back pain, physicians can diagnose it by discussing symptoms, performing an exam, and using an MRI to assess the spine. If osteoarthritis is the culprit behind the pain, it may be treated through several means, including physical therapy and steroid injections.
Patients may also consider regenerative medicine options, such as platelet-rich plasma and stem cell therapy, to potentially heal tissues and prevent further damage to the back. Depending on the cause and MRI readings, the use of a fluoroscopy machine may be needed to target the affected areas of the spine.
This post was written by a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine. Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions. Click here to learn more.