Is it Harmful to Crack Your Knuckles?

Whether about to start a fight, get to work, or indulge in a nervous habit, people crack their knuckles for many reasons. But does cracking your knuckles weaken joints or bones? Will you get arthritis? Why is there a cracking or popping noise?

We are lucky; there has been much research on this topic over the years. In this post, we will go over the cracking and its effect on your body.

What is Cracking?
When you hear a “cracking” or “popping” noise come from a joint, you released gas. Nitrogen bubbles form in the synovial fluid surrounding your joints. The synovial fluid acts as a lubricant for your joints letting them move more fluidly and naturally.

You might have noticed it is tougher to crack a knuckle after you already heard one pop. There has to be enough time for the nitrogen to build up again. The process to build up bubbles takes about 20 minutes.


What Do We Know About Cracking?
Fortunately, studies have been done to explore what happens when people crack their knuckles. From this research, we can say that cracking your knuckles is mostly harmless.

There have been cases of individuals aggressively pulling parts of their body hoping for a crack. Some of these incidents resulted in dislocations or tendon issues. These cases are rare.


How Do We Know Cracking Is Harmless?
One experiment on knuckle cracking comes from Donald L. Unger. This researcher put his own body to the test by cracking the knuckles on only one hand for 60 years. After many years, he took x-rays that showed no arthritic differences in his hands. Several large scale similar studies support his personal findings. There are some reports that vigorous popping can decrease grip strength. Even in these cases, there were no signs of an increased risk of arthritis.


What About Those Other “Pops?”
Purposefully cracking your knuckles isn’t the only time you may have heard a popping noise. Many people notice similar sounds when squatting or bending their knees. These pops come from the bones or tendons passing over each other. Without pain or swelling, this should be fine.

Having problems with joints or is some part of you feeling “off?” Give the experienced professionals at Delta Chiropractic Center of Lansing a call today at (517) 321-3030 to set up your free consultation.

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