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Snap, Crackle... Whats that popping sound?



I have had many friends and family inquiring about popping noises that come from joints. Most of these stories describe the ankle and they say something like, “see I can make it pop all the time when I do this.” This is where they lift up a pant leg and draw a circle with their foot to rotate the ankle and sure enough a pop will occur. Answering the question of: ‘What’s the popping?’ needs to be carefully evaluated.

The first thing I ask is, does it hurt? A painful popping is very different than a painless one. Typically a painless popping at the ankle joint is due to one or two muscle tendons sliding over a prominence or scar tissue. When this is performed without pain or history of injury to the area it is most likely nothing to worry about. However these noises can mean much more if they are associated with pain or injury.

A painful popping is typically associated with a prior injury and may need further investigation. After tendon injury scar tissue can develop which can cause thickening and prevent it from resting in its normal area allowing it to ‘pop‘ out. Another possibility is that the popping is from an entirely different source like cartilage, bone, a bad joint, or something else. Because of the possibilities it is very important to find out the source and then discuss what to do about it.

At Summit Foot and Ankle we can employ a variety of means to identify the cause of painful popping. Along with a thorough clinical examination we can use x-ray or ultrasound during your visit right in the office. If needed we’ll order a CT or MR to identify what is causing the sound and make a plan to get you better.

If you have a painful or unusual popping, or hopefully not ‘other’ sounds in your foot or ankle we are here to help. Call Summit Foot and Ankle today (801) 564-1562. You can also look online at www.drandrewburgon.com to make an appointment or discover information on other foot and ankle problems.



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