Crepitus is a Medical term to describe crackling sound or a grinding feeling in any part of the body.
It is frequently experienced when a bone rubs against other bone (or adjoining tissue) or due to the interaction of fluid with the tissue.
Crepitus is basically a sound or sensation which is experienced from rubbing between the bones, as experienced in various forms of joint arthritis.
Additionally crepitus can be experienced when the lung tissues or fluid in lung rubs against each other.
A muffled sound with a crackling sensation is experienced when a person places his hand over the joint when it moves.
According to various researches and experiences of the patients, it is clearly noted that neck and shoulder crepitus is more disturbing than a crepitus in other joints in the body.
The feeling is quite distracting since the sound in your ear disturbs you much with every turn you make which can dampen your social lode.
Occasional crackling, grating or grinding sound without pain may not be more of a concern. And thus crepitus with no pain is more regarded as a harmless problem. You should not at all worry about it as it can be treated with some simple techniques at home.
However if popping or grating sound persists recurrently or continuously with pain while moving the neck, it may be an indication of something going wrong.
Since prolonged crepitus in neck can be quite distracting and troublesome management is essential at initial stages which is mainly targeted towards curing the underlying cause.
Causes Of Crepitus In Neck
Crepitus in neck can be caused due to many reasons. It is mainly caused by a degenerative joint problem that is only beginning to surface.
The most common reason for it is osteoarthritis of neck. In fact it is one of the main symptoms of osteoarthritis of neck.
Osteoarthritis is a condition which is caused due to wearing down of cartilage between two neck bones (cervical vertebra). This may lead to stiffness and pain in neck. It commonly occurs in adults, rarely children may also suffer from these problems.
Crepitus is commonly felt and heard when one rotates his/her neck. This is not caused due to any underlying disease but, it is a result of mechanical movement of neck. It may be deliberate or unknowingly.
Symptoms Of Neck Crepitus
Besides the crackling sensation or sound, crepitus in neck is usually associated with other symptoms which are suggestive of arthritis – such as pain experienced while moving the neck forward and backward or even while rotating the neck.
Patients may also complain of neck stiffness and muscle spasms during this. The sound of neck crepitus is often subdued, but sensation can be felt by the patient. It can be felt with the neck movement.
Few of the neck crepitus symptoms also include headache, weakness & numbness in arms and hands.
The pain in the middle or on either side of your neck may also be felt which may radiate to the shoulder. If you have headache, the pain frequently radiates to the back of your head. Pain can sometimes also be felt behind your eyes and into your ears.
These all symptoms may also result into fatigue and dizziness. You may experience the dizziness particularly while turning your head.
Dizziness and even blackouts are usually caused when the blood flow is temporarily blocked or reduced to the cervical region. It is best to see the doctor if the problem continues.
Treatment Options For Crepitus In Neck
The treatment of crepitus in neck mainly depends on the underlying causes.
The key feature which concerns most of the doctors is associated symptoms such as pain in neck and stiffness. The good news is, crepitus is not a chronic problem. Solutions do exist, though it requires your patience.
If crepitus with no pain occurs in neck, only once, due to forceful movement of neck (like while lifting object or rotation of neck), it may not be a major concern. In such cases treatment is not required.
With some additional resting hours and sound sleep the problem can get treated on its own.
But if there is chronic pain in neck along with crepitus with each neck movement made, patient may require to be treated.
The best home remedy is getting gentle massage of the joints. Getting a good massage using a massage gun helps to relax the tension in neck muscles and at the same time helps in easing the neck movements.
Getting in contact with a doctor is often recommended if the problem does not gets solved soon. Your doctor may advice trying some simple neck crepitus exercises which proves helpful.
If crepitus in neck occurs due to osteoarthritis, pain relieving medicines in addition to a gentle massage are recommended by the doctor to alleviate the symptoms.