Cracks, clicks and cricks: Normal or not?
"It's hard to differentiate normal noises and symptoms
from those that will send you to your physician's office
for further investigation," says William Berna, MD,
Virtua internal medicine. "Ultimately, if the noise or
symptom interrupts daily life, you should consult
Here's how to tell if your body's noises are normal
or if they're sending out an SOS.
Snap, crackle, pop -
Your joints are noisier than a crispy cereal
The cracking you hear occurs when oxygen and
nitrogen are released from your joints - or when
ligaments move over your bones. Painless cracking
is normal and usually nothing to worry about, but when
pain accompanies the cracking, it could signal
a serious condition like arthritis.
"If you have pain or swelling in the joint area or
it's hard to move, you should see your physician,"
cautions Paul Lanza, DO, Virtua family physician.
"If you also have a fever, you should seek medical
attention as soon as possible. A fever, combined
with joint-pain can signify an acute, inflammatory
disorder or infection."
Eating a banana a day could keep
your muscle cramps away
Muscles cramp when lactic acid builds up and irritates
them, causing them to contract. If your cramps are
associated with a change in physical activity and go away
by slowly stretching or applying pressure, they are not
cause for concern. Help prevent cramps by increasing
your water intake and eating potassium-rich foods like
avocados, potatoes or bananas.
You should be concerned about muscle cramps if you
are taking cholesterol-lowering medication or if the
cramps are severe, last a long time, come back frequently
or accompany physical activity.
"If you have cramps when walking or if there's a change
in skin color or temperature at the cramp location, see
your physician immediately," says Dr. Berna. "These
symptoms could be a sign of poor circulation."
Your back used to hurt only after heavy lifting -
now it hurts all the time
If you can connect your lower back pain with an
activity like lifting a heavy object, moving suddenly
or sitting in one position for a long time, the back
pain is probably normal and can be treated at home.
While bed rest is not recommended, you should stop
normal physical activity and apply ice for the first 24
hours to reduce inflammation. After that, you can resume
normal physical activity, as tolerated, and apply moist
heat. Over-the-counter pain medication may also provide
some relief, but shouldn't be taken longer than 48 to 72
hours without consulting your physician.
"If the lower back pain persists; comes on
suddenly without a known cause; is accompanied
by a fever, numbness or tingling; or extends
into your abdomen or legs, see your physician
as soon as possible," says Dr. Lanza. "These
could be signs of a more serious condition
like a herniated disk, kidney stones