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Categories > Muscles and Joints > Arthritis

Click! Creak! Crack!
Keeping joints healthy

Oil your joints
Oil your joints

Extra-virgin olive oil acts much the same way as ibuprofen when it comes to reducing arthritis inflammation and pain, according to research conducted at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. Three and a half tablespoons of the oil is equal to a 200 mg tablet—but that adds up to more than 400 calories. The best way to counter the calories? Instead of adding more calories to your diet, use extra-virgin olive oil in place of other fats.

Ever wonder what’s behind the creaking and crackling your joints make as you go through your day? Perhaps you’re most aware of your joints when they click as you climb the stairs or crack as you reach for that can of peaches tucked away on an upper shelf. Generally, these noises are harmless, but if you feel pain along with the noise, see your healthcare provider.

So what’s with all the racket? Here are four common causes:

  • Your joints are filled with synovial fluid, a lubricant that contains oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. When you stretch a joint, the pop you hear is the sound of the gas being released.
  • When you move, tendons—the bands of tissue that connect muscle to bone—move. You may hear a snapping noise as tendons rush back in place.
  • Connective tissue that binds joints together and connects bones and cartilage may also tighten as you move your joints, creating a cracking sound.
  • People with arthritis often lose cartilage. The resulting roughness of the joint surface can create a creaking noise. This sound is called crepitus.

Keeping joints healthy

Exercise can preserve range of motion and flexibility and increase joint stability, but speak with your healthcare provider before you begin. To keep your joints in tip-top shape, take good care of them:

  • Pick a cardiovascular activity that’s easy on the joints such as walking, bicycling, water aerobics or swimming. Don’t forget to include range-of-motion exercises (slow, gentle movements such as shoulder circles and leg swings). If you’re not in great shape, start training three times a day for as little as two minutes at a time.
  • When you lift heavy objects, distribute the weight evenly.
  • Be kind to aching joints. Use self-help devices such as jar openers, reach extenders and buttoning aids.
  • Don’t sit and rust. Keeping your joints in the same position may cause stiffness, so change positions often.
  • But know when to rest. Respect your body’s signals that you’re getting tired and alternate physical activities with less vigorous activity.