You may be causing some minute incremental damage to your ligaments by cracking your knees every few minutes as this action stretches the ligaments.
The gases which cause the cracking sound need up to 1/2 hour to redissolve into the synovial fluid.
The cracking gives you a sense of "euphoria" and "looseness" because the muscles surrounding your knees relax and the nerve endings sensing motion (called "Golgi tendon organ") get stimulated at the same time.
There might be an addictive aspect to this habit/action
Look into seronegative arthritis, low methylation, low grade pathogenic infections like pathogenic mycoplasma and its co-infections.
The weaker a muscle happens to be, the weaker the joint, so the doctor who suggested this may have a point, but I cannot speculate, based on the limited information from your post.
The are a variety of muscle strength tests and I'm surprised that no testing was suggested, in order to rule out muscle weakness.
At any rate, I hope you find the answers you're looking for soon
and BTW not all drugs work on all people as this depends on many factors
including your own phenotype and genotype.
Thank you for your response, however the cracking does not give me that euphoric feeling, it relieves pain caused by "pressure" (the only way I can describe it). Nor is this an addictive habit for me. If I don't crack my knees, I am in debilitating pain. I constantly feel like I have 1000b bricks balanced on my kneecaps, even moreso if I try to hold off on popping them. For the other joints, if I hold off on cracking them they will be in a lot of discomfort. Wouldn't necessarily call those painful, but it is definitely bothersome.
As for the orthopedist's diagnosis of probable muscle weakness, this wouldn't make sense because I am symptomatic in more than just my knees. The orthopedist's treatment plan was to send me to physical therapy for about a month (twice a week) and then when my knees "felt better" he would send me for my other joints. I'm a pretty healthy person overall-I'm 5'2 and weigh 120- I can't possibly have weakness in every muscle of my body, especially my knees, which are the strongest in my opinion. The maximum leg press limit at my gym is 350 pounds which I can do with no problem. However, there was no official muscle strength testing as you said.
The concern is that the temporary relief you're getting, may also be contributing to your joint pain in the long term, as the chronic & repeated cracking may result in damage of the ligaments, which would affect the muscles and consequently the knees.
You're right about the muscle weakness theory being faulty, since many other joints are affected-I missed this in your original post, assuming it involved mainly your knees- so in way it may help narrow down the search.
I'll think about this and should I come up with anything more concrete,
I'll let you know.
Did you have a Synovial fluid analysis? If not, I think you should ask for one,
which might help get some answers.
Wishing you well.
Oh believe me, I know there's a huge possibility it will cause further problems. Which is why I'm trying to get to the bottom of this ASAP because I do notice it getting progressively worse.
If you do think of anything, I would appreciate it, and I thank you in advance. My rheumatology appointment is tomorrow, hopefully this doctor will be more thorough with me, and I will ask about that analysis and hopefully he will do further tests as well.