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You Asked: My Ankles Crack When I Walk Up and Down Stairs

You're asking and I'm answering . . .

Dear Fit,
Is it normal for my ankles to make a cracking or popping sound, the same sound my knuckles make when I crack them? It happens when I'm walking around in the morning, but especially when I go up or down stairs. It doesn't hurt at all, it's just noisy, and my boyfriend thinks something is wrong with me. Is it something I should worry about?
— Poppy Polly

If you're wondering too then


What you're referring to is called crepitus, a cracking or grinding sound that can be heard or felt around the lungs, under the skin, or as in your case, in the joints. It usually occurs in large joints such as the shoulders or knees, but can occur in other joints as well. It's not the same as the loud pop you hear when you crack your knuckles (which is caused by the release of gas bubbles in your joint fluid). What you're describing, is caused by uneven cartilage surfaces rubbing together. Since you're not experiencing any discomfort or impaired range of motion, I wouldn't really worry about it. On the other hand, pain could be a sign of injury, cartilage wear, or arthritis, so if you start to notice inflammation, tenderness, or achiness, it's best to get checked by a doctor.


Join The Conversation
freegracefrom freegracefrom 9 years
My knees do this too. It's funny, it alarms people sometimes. I used to be embarrassed about it.
maggieleigh maggieleigh 9 years
Glad I'm not the only one! My right ankle cracks all the time - makes me self-conscious at the gym! :P
luz-y-sombra luz-y-sombra 9 years
PHEW! I was always slightly worried about this. My ankles, wrists, knees, elbows, chest, pointer fingers, thumbs and big toes all pop!!! I feel less like a freak now. :D Thanks, Poppy Polly. P.S. I used to creep out my friends by making them feel or listen to my wrists pop at school. Ah, that was fun!
plus_2_kid plus_2_kid 9 years
Fit - She said that her ankles make the SAME noise as when knuckles crack, but your answer said crepitus is NOT the same sound. Why can't it just be gas bubbles releasing in the fluid in her ankle joints?
syako syako 9 years
My ankles have ALWAYS popped. My mom always joked that I could never sneak around the house because they would hear "pop pop pop" coming down the stairs! :rotfl:
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 9 years
I've had this ever since the 4th grade. *sigh*
gumdrops334 gumdrops334 9 years
My knees pop when I do squats as well, but I don't know why. It doesn't hurt, but it feels uncomfortable do I dont do a lot of squats. Maybe you could answer what that is too, fit!
skigurl skigurl 9 years
my knees pop when i squat too, but i have a torn ligament in my left knee so i assumed it was from that
new new 9 years
i have this too, my knees make so much noise when i walk up or down the stairs. my boyfriend hates it, it freaks him out. he doesn't even want to walk behind me on the stairs.
Sugar_Rush Sugar_Rush 9 years
ah that is so me! except it's my knees... every single step I take up or down stairs... I'd never be able to surprise anyone... you can hear me coming!
ElectroPopTart ElectroPopTart 9 years
this TOTALLY happens to me.
kia kia 9 years
It happens to me after I have worked my body and my legs are tight but loosen up through the day... then the sound is gone.
emalove emalove 9 years
Hmmm...this doesn't happen to me, but if you're not in pain, I wouldn't be too concerned.
colormesticky colormesticky 9 years
Ha, me too. My ankles and one of my big toes. I can't be sneaky when I tiptoe with all the snap-snap-snapping.
brookrene brookrene 9 years
Me too! I get it from my dad. My hips pop too. Now that i think is odd.
jasmint jasmint 9 years
Yep, this happens to me, too. Glad to see I'm not alone!
superfoxml superfoxml 9 years
haha mine do this and people always look at me like i'm a mutant or something. glad other people have this too!
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
My ankles do this too...
LVC LVC 9 years
THAT COULD BE ME! It happens EVERY TIME I go down a flight of stairs or steps... My Mom's have always done the same thing. There is no pain at all, just a pop on each step. The thing is I can not crack any joint in my body at all. I Hate that, the feeling, the noise. But this is just normal for me. It is kind of funny now. Almost a conversations starter!?!?! (They are loud!)
linb linb 9 years
I have this in my shoulders sometimes when working out or lifting things. No pain, just a pop. My boyfriend must have crepitus - he can stand still and twist his legs/body and his ankles will crack.
Puzzle2397 Puzzle2397 9 years
My knees often pop when I squat down, which I always find kind of embarrassing. But they don't hurt (at least yet), so that's a good sign. I don't think I've had too many problems with my ankles, though.
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
Interesting. I have a similar thing when I run stairs, but I don't hear it popping, it's more like I feel it. And it the mornings I walk on tip toe because my achilles tendon feels tight. I try to stretch before bed, but it doesn't help
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