Lupus and Cracking Joints: 4 Things To Know | MyLupusTeam

Connect with others who understand.

sign up Log in
Resources
About MyLupusTeam
Powered By

Lupus and Cracking Joints: 4 Things To Know

Medically reviewed by Neil J. Gonter, M.D.
Written by Suzanne Mooney
Posted on July 6, 2023

You roll out your yoga mat and are looking forward to a relaxing stretching session when the cracking of your joints interrupts the silence. Or you are sitting at your desk, and when you arch to stretch your back, the sound of your popping joints causes your co-workers to turn and stare.

While joints that pop and crack can be normal when you have systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) — the most common form of lupus — they can also be frustrating and embarrassing. Keep reading for four things to know about lupus and cracking joints.

1. You Are Not Alone

When you have a chronic autoimmune disease like lupus, it can feel like you are the only one living with joint pain, hair loss, and other common symptoms. Rest assured, you are not alone.

Here are a few experiences MyLupusTeam members shared about cracking joints:

  • “My lower back pops and cracks when I’m doing floor exercises or yoga.”
  • “I sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies with my bones popping.”
  • “My joints always pop. It sounds like when I crack my knuckles.”
  • “It sounds like I’m microwaving popcorn. It feels like bone on bone.”

In addition to receiving medical help for managing lupus and receiving support from your loved ones, connecting with others who also live with lupus can provide a valuable sense of companionship, especially during flare-ups. This connection can help lessen feelings of isolation and make you feel less alone in your journey. Try posting about your experience on MyLupusTeam or find a local support group where you and others can share tips for managing medication side effects and symptoms of lupus.

2. Lupus May Not Be the Cause

Connective tissue diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma can cause cracking and popping in the fingers, jaw, knees, shoulders, and other joints. But so can aging.

“Cracking and popping can be normal, especially as we age,” said one MyLupusTeam member.

Cracking joints can be caused by:

  • Osteoarthritis (cartilage wearing away)
  • Tight muscles causing friction around the bone
  • Nitrogen bubbles escaping from the joint
  • Inflammation in and around the joint
  • Ligament or tendon movement

When the natural aging process contributes to these changes in your body, your doctor may recommend medications or gentle exercises to help. For people with lupus, inflammation may be to blame.

In lupus, a person’s immune system attacks their tissues and organs. This inflammatory disease can lead to some types of arthritis and related conditions like bursitis and tendonitis. The good news is that lupus treatments can often relieve joint pain and other symptoms.

3. Treatment Options May Be Available

Your current medication plan for treating lupus may address some of the causes of cracking joints or accompanying symptoms.

For example, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) can help address pain and inflammation. Other medications like corticosteroids or hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) might address joint cracking caused by inflammation.

Your doctor may also prescribe light exercise to reduce fluid buildup.

One MyLupusTeam member with cracking joints recommends osteopathy, a branch of medicine specializing in the nervous system and how muscles and bones work together. “Osteopathy has been very helpful for me overall,” the member said. “It can be difficult to find a doctor of osteopathy (DO) who performs manipulative therapy, but it is definitely worth looking into.”

4. Your Doctor or a Rheumatologist Can Help

Cracking joints are generally not a cause for concern. If you notice pain or swelling or experience the sensation in parts of your body where you didn’t previously, schedule an appointment with your rheumatologist or another health care provider.

“If there is swelling or pain in the joint, definitely be seen,” said one MyLupusTeam member. “But it wouldn't hurt to mention it at your next appointment anyway.”

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyLupusTeam is the social network for people with lupus and their loved ones. On MyLupusTeam, more than 223,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with lupus.

Do you experience cracking joints with lupus? Share your experience in the comments below.

    Posted on July 6, 2023
    All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

    Become a Subscriber

    Get the latest articles about lupus sent to your inbox.

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
    Neil J. Gonter, M.D. is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University. Learn more about him here.
    Suzanne Mooney writes about people, pets, health and wellness, and travel. Learn more about her here.

    Related Articles

    “I seem to get swelling in my lower lip with lupus flares,” wrote one member of MyLupusTeam. “We’...

    Is Lip Swelling a Symptom of Lupus?

    “I seem to get swelling in my lower lip with lupus flares,” wrote one member of MyLupusTeam. “We’...
    Mouth sores and nose sores, sometimes called ulcers, are common symptoms of systemic lupus erythe...

    Mouth and Nose Sores in Lupus: Causes and Treatments

    Mouth sores and nose sores, sometimes called ulcers, are common symptoms of systemic lupus erythe...
    When people are diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, often simply referred to as lup...

    What Do Lupus Fingernails Look Like? 5 Ways To Manage Symptoms

    When people are diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, often simply referred to as lup...
    Excessive sweating, overheating, hot flashes, and changes in body temperature are common symptoms...

    Excessive Sweating and Lupus: Night Sweats, Hot Flashes, and More

    Excessive sweating, overheating, hot flashes, and changes in body temperature are common symptoms...
    Most people living with lupus are aware of the common symptoms of this condition, but unexpected ...

    5 Signs of SLE Complications: Fluttering Heartbeat, Kidney Problems, and More

    Most people living with lupus are aware of the common symptoms of this condition, but unexpected ...
    Angular cheilitis and lupus rash are distinct skin issues with noticeable differences. While lupu...

    Angular Cheilitis vs. Lupus Rash: 4 Differences To Note

    Angular cheilitis and lupus rash are distinct skin issues with noticeable differences. While lupu...

    Recent Articles

    Welcome to MyLupusTeam — the place to connect with others living with lupus. This video will wal...

    Getting Started on MyLupusTeam (VIDEO)

    Welcome to MyLupusTeam — the place to connect with others living with lupus. This video will wal...
    Living with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the most common type of lupus, can be expensive. ...

    6 Ways To Save Money With Lupus: Insurance, Medication, Housing, and More

    Living with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the most common type of lupus, can be expensive. ...
    Shannon Boxx is a three-time Olympic gold medalist and a World Cup champion with the U.S. Women’...

    Lupus Fatigue: 3 Tips for Energy From Soccer Pro Shannon Boxx (VIDEO)

    Shannon Boxx is a three-time Olympic gold medalist and a World Cup champion with the U.S. Women’...
    Are you unsure how to manage your lupus symptoms? Do you feel nervous about treatment options? Li...

    4 Expert Tips for Finding and Talking to a Lupus Doctor

    Are you unsure how to manage your lupus symptoms? Do you feel nervous about treatment options? Li...
    Race and other factors, including sex and age, can affect the health outcomes of people in the Un...

    Is Lupus More Common in Certain Races? 3 Risk Factors To Know

    Race and other factors, including sex and age, can affect the health outcomes of people in the Un...
    When you’ve been diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), seeking the best care for you...

    Lupus Appointment Guide: 8 Tips for Visiting a Rheumatologist

    When you’ve been diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), seeking the best care for you...
    MyLupusTeam My lupus Team

    Thank you for subscribing!

    Become a member to get even more:

    sign up for free

    close