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Knee pain from high impact activities like running is a common symptom of osteoarthritis.

There are many symptoms which can help your doctor diagnose osteoarthritis.  Osteoarthritis of the knee is typically observed after patients complain of knee pain, joint stiffness, joint swelling, and pain with exercise or high activities.  Early detection is very important because osteoarthritis includes degeneration of cartilage, a joint tissue that heals very slowly.  If osteoarthritis can be diagnosed earlier, it may be possible to improve treatment outcomes and to delay or avoid surgical intervention.

Recent research published in the Biophysical Journal suggests that there may be a new way to diagnose osteoarthritis even earlier.  Since cartilage includes a high fluid content, scientists may be able to detect damage to cartilage by diagnosing the flow of fluids in the joint space.  Researchers were also able to determine that cartilage deficits caused by osteoarthritis were most visible during rapid compression of the joint.  In other words, damage to your knee from osteoarthritis should be most visible in high speed high impact activities.

So if you experience knee pain that is worst when you run, talk to your doctor.  We all hope that the pain will go away on its own, but the longer you wait before consulting a physician, the more damage can occur to your knee.  Every day that you delay treatment may eventually cost you.  Why risk it?

Knuckle cracking may not lead to osteoarthritis.  But other noises may reflect injury.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always heard that cracking your knuckles was bad for you.  My mother told me I would get arthritis if I didn’t stop.  But recent research published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found no connection between knuckle cracking and ostoearthritis.  Throughout normal daily activities, gas bubbles build up in joint spaces.  When these bubbles burst, it produces the popping sound of the cracking knuckles.  The gasses dissapate without damaging the cartilage in the joint space, and so do not contribute to arthritis.

Not all joint noises are harmless.  Creaking and grinding noises, often in the knee, are called “crepitus”.  These noises can be indicative of damaged or inflamed cartilage.  Crepitus can be distinguished from joint cracking in two very important ways:  crepitus is nearly always associated with pain, and unlike joint cracking, produces the sound or grinding feeling on nearly every motion.

Knee pain is your body’s way of telling you that there is a problem.  So listen to your body, but worry more about how it feels than how it sounds.  If you have any doubts about your health, do not hesitate to contact your doctor and seek treatment.