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Joint Noises

By Alexandra Villa-Forte, MD, MPH, Staff Physician, Center for Vasculitis Care and Research, Department of Rheumatic and Immunologic Diseases, Cleveland Clinic

Joint noises (crepitus), such as creaks and clicks, are common among many people without any joint disorders, but they can occur with specific problems of the joints. For example, the base of the knee cap may creak when it is damaged by osteoarthritis, and the jaw may click in a person who has temporomandibular joint disorder.

Doctors ask about the person's symptoms and do an examination to determine whether a joint noise is a symptom of a certain disorder. Further evaluation and treatment are needed only if the examination results suggest a significant joint problem. Joint noises themselves do not necessarily indicate a serious problem and do not require treatment.