Crepitus is a word used in medical parlance to describe crackling, grinding feeling or sound in the body. It is frequently used when bone rubs against the bone or adjoining tissue or interaction of fluid with the tissue. Crepitus is frequently used when a sound or sensation is produced from rubbing between the bones as seen in various forms of joint arthritis.
In the same way crepitus is heard when the lung tissues or fluid in lung rubs against each other. It is a muffled sound, but there is a crackling sensation when a person places his hand over the joint when it moves.
Crepitus in neck is not uncommon, as it is one of the symptoms of osteoarthritis of neck. It is a condition caused due to wearing down of cartilage between two neck bones (cervical vertebra). This leads to stiffness and neck pain. It usually occurs in adults. Rarely children may suffer from this problem. Since crepitus in neck is a symptom, management is mainly targeted towards curing the underlying cause.
What Are The Causes Of Crepitus In Neck?
Crepitus in neck can be caused due to many reasons. Occasional crackling or grinding sound without pain may not be more of a concern. Such crepitus are considered to be harmless. However if popping or grating sound persists recurrently or continuously with pain and movement of neck, it may be an indication of something wrong.
The most common reason for it is osteoarthritis of neck. It is a condition where the cartilage cushioning the two vertebral bones gets worn out due to stress and strain. Osteoarthritis of bones is a slow deterioration of bones which occurs as a person grows older. Rarely the condition is noticed at young age.
Patient may complain of pain and neck stiffness. Crepitus is often felt and heard when you rotate your neck. Here it is not caused due to any underlying disease but it is a result of mechanical movement of neck. It can be deliberate or unknowingly.
Symptoms Of Neck Crepitus
Crepitus in neck is usually associated with other symptoms which are suggestive of arthritis, such as pain while moving the neck forward or backward or even rotating the neck. Patient may also complain of stiffness. The sound of neck crepitus is often subdued, but sensation can be felt by the patient. It can be felt with neck movement.
Beside this, the other symptoms together with neck crepitus are headache, weakness and numbness in arms and hands. It is caused due to pinching of nerve originating from the cervical spine. Pain and stiffness can cause sleep disturbance and subsequently fatigue.
Treatment Options For Crepitus In Neck
The treatment of crepitus in neck mainly depends on the underlying cause. The key feature which concerns most doctors is associated symptoms such as pain in neck and stiffness. The other concomitant symptoms such as tingling and numbness in arm and hand may also suggest something more serious in cervical spine.
If crepitus in neck is due to mechanical forceful movement of neck while lifting object or rotation of neck, it may not be a concern as it may occur once. In such cases treatment is not required. However, when there is chronic pain in neck along with crepitus with each neck movement, patient may require to be treated. One such effective home remedy is gentle massage. It helps to increase tension in neck muscles and at the same time helps to increase neck movement.
If crepitus in neck occurs due to osteoarthritis, pain relieving medicines and a gentle massage will help to alleviate symptoms. A neck brace and other forms of physical therapy are also useful in relieving the crepitus and other symptoms.