What your knees are telling you when they snap, crackle and pop

If you've reached a certain age, it's probably happened to you.

You step off a curb... or kneeled to pick something up... and CRUNCH!

And if your knees aren't crunching, they might be snapping, crackling, or popping.

Sure, it may be a sign that your body is aging. But your knees specifically may be trying to send you a message with all that noise.

According to a recent study that followed nearly 3500 older folks from across the U.S., those crunching, cracking, or popping sounds around joints may predict arthritis.

And that's especially true if you hear it in your knees.

For three years, researchers analyzed the pain, stiffness, noises, and grating sensations (a.k.a. "crepitus"), of the study's participants, all between 50 and 70 years old.

Once a year, the team also ordered X-rays to look for signs of arthritis.

By the end of the study, the folks who reported they always had crepitus were three times more likely to develop arthritis than those who never had it. Even those with crepitus "sometimes" or "often" had roughly double the risk.

But that's not the whole story -- because there was a 50 percent higher risk of developing arthritis even among those who said they only felt those sensations along with the sounds "rarely."

It doesn't matter if you can hear but not feel your knees going south. The noise is a warning sign that the cushiony cartilage in your joints is breaking down.

And if you're an older man, you're especially at risk.

But, once you start to hear those pops and cracks, you can take action, and stop the damage BEFORE it leads to arthritis.

And if you already feel the pain, you can slow or REVERSE the problem by giving your knees what they need by taking a combo of glucosamine and chondroitin.

They're not suitable for vegetarians or vegans -- as glucosamine comes from the shells of shellfish, and chondroitin comes from cartilage found in cows, pigs, sharks, and other animals -- but I don't recommend you give up animal products if you want to stay healthy and live better, anyway!

Each of these natural ingredients can act as a natural shock absorber -- but when taken together, they're even better at supporting and protecting your joints from the wear and tear that naturally occurs as we get older.

You can find glucosamine and chondroitin supplements pretty affordably online or at your local health food store.

One word of caution on glucosamine though -- it can increase blood sugar in some people, so consult your doctor if you're diabetic.