How to crack your knuckles

Published: 27 July, 2017

How to crack your knuckles

Knuckle cracking is satisfying and gratifying to those who enjoy it, and aggravating and disgusting to those who don’t. If you’re interested in being a creative knuckle cracker, you can learn multiple ways of going about it. People have different opinions about the health effects of cracking your knuckles, with some people claiming that it’s harmless and others insisting that it contributes to problems with arthritis.

The Classic Method

You may recognize this method from old gangster movies where tough guys would use it to limber up their hands before beating someone senseless. Hold your hands up with the palms facing away from you and interlock your fingers. Now push your hands away from your body so that the back of each hand bends the fingers of the other hand backwards. Keep pushing until all your knuckles crack.

Finger Pulling

This method allows you to select the knuckles that you would like to crack. Hold the upper end of a finger tightly with your opposite hand in a fist. Pull on the finger until the knuckle cracks.

Singles

This method could also be used as a form of torture, so don’t overdo it. Hold up a hand with the palm facing toward you. With your other hand, grab one of your fingers and bend it backwards over the back of your hand. If it starts to hurt badly before the knuckle cracks, stop or you may break your finger.

The Crunch

Hold up one hand with the palm facing toward the floor and make a loose fist. Wrap your other hand over the top, with the first row of knuckles of each hand aligned. Squeeze your lower hand tightly with your other hand and pull down over the fingers until your knuckles start cracking.

The Steeple

This is a dramatic method with excellent visuals. Place your hands in front of you with the palms and fingers together in a praying position. Lift your elbows into the air and force your palms apart until the backs of your hands are horizontal but your fingers are still vertical and pressed tightly together. At some point, your knuckles will start to pop.

More Articles

  1. What Are the Causes of Bilateral Elbow Pain?
  2. How To Splint a Finger
  3. Pain When Stretching My Little Finger
  4. How to Increase Flexibility in My Big Toes
  5. How to Tape Injured Thumbs

It’s a common misconception that cracking your knuckles can cause arthritis. Cracking the joints in your fingers can actually relieve tension and pressure located in the hands. The popping noise heard when cracking your joints, occurs due to nitrogen being pulled into the joint through negative pressure 2. Cracking and popping sounds can also be heard when tendons snap over body tissues due of minor adjustments in their gliding paths. As a general rule, painless cracking of the knuckles is not seen a dangerous.

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Curl your left hand up into a closed fist with your thumb pointing away from the fingers; not tucked inside. Hold the left hand in front of your body and point it to your right. Your thumb should be pointing at your chest.

What Are the Causes of Bilateral Elbow Pain?

Flatten your right hand into a straight edge with your fingers close together. Connect the base of your palm with the bent knuckles of your left hand.

Push very gently with the palm of your right hand to exert some pressure onto the bent knuckles of your left. Curl the fingers of your right hand over the closed fist, if you need more leverage.

How To Splint a Finger

Crack your knuckles loudly by exerting more pressure over all four finger knuckles at the same time, until they crack. If done properly, you should hear the loud combined cracking of four joints and not just one.

Repeat with the right hand, but in the opposite directions.

Consult a doctor or medical professional, if you ever feel pain when cracking your knuckles. Pain may indicate underlying abnormalities in the structures of the joint; such as loose cartilage or damaged ligaments.

You can also gently pull on the ends of your fingers to stimulate a crack from the knuckles, although the sound is far quieter than pushing on them directly.

Sufferers of arthritis, bursitis or tendinitis are likely to hear involuntary cracking sounds due to the snapping or irregular swollen tissues in the joints.

Warnings

Do not force your joints to crack, if they are not making any noises — doing so could lead to both temporary and permanent joint damage.

How to crack your knuckles

अंगुलियां चटकाना एक सामान्य आदत है। घंटों काम करने के दौरान या फिर बैठे-बैठे कोई भी, कभी भी अपनी अंगुलियां चटकाने लगता है। दरअसल कुछ लोगों के लिए यह उदासी या नर्वसनेस से निपटने का एक तरीका है जबकि कुछ लोगों के लिए यह महज टाइम पास है। हालांकि इसका कभी कोई नकारात्मक परिणाम देखने-सुनने को नहीं मिला है। लेकिन ये सवाल हम सबके ही मन में रहता है कि क्या उंगलियां चटकाना नुकसादायक हो सकता है?

हालांकि, इस विषय पर गंभीरता से शोध किए जाने की जरूरत है लेकिन आइए सतही तौर पर जानते हैं कि अंगुलियां चटकाना क्यों सही नहीं है।

हड्डियां चटकने की आवाज क्यों आती है – Hadiya ya ungliya kyu chatakti hai

ज्वाइंट क्रैकिंग अस्थायी रूप से जोड़ों में नाइट्रोजन गैस खींचने वाले एक नकारात्मक दबाव के परिणामस्वरूप हो सकती है। यह बिल्कुल अंगुलियां चटकाने जैसी होती है। यह नुकसानदेय नहीं है। ऐसी ही आवाज तब भी आती है जब नसें ऊतकों के ऊपर चढ़ जाती है और ये अपने-अपने कार्य में सामंजस्य बैठाने की कोशिश करती हैं। उम्र बढ़ने के साथ मांसपेशियां और कार्यप्रणाली में बदलाव होता है, जिस कारण चटकने की आवाज ज्यादा हो सकती है। अगर चटकने के दौरान दर्द भी हो तो समझें आपके जोड़ों में कुछ असामान्यता है जैसे नर्म हड्डियां कमजोर हो गई हैं या लिगामेंट्स में चोट लग गई है। गठिया, बर्साइटिस, टेंडिनाइटिस (एड़ी में दर्द या ऐंठन) के कुछ मरीजों में सूजे हुए ऊतकों में चटकने की आवाज आती है।

उंगलियां या हड्डियां चटकाने के नुकसान – Haddi chatakne ke nuksan

जोड़ों का खिसकना
हालांकि व्यापक स्तर पर देखा गया है कि अंगुलियों के चटकाने से किसी तरह की दिक्कतें नहीं आतीं। लेकिन बहुत कम मामलों में देखा गया है कि लगातार अंगुलियां चटकने की वजह से अंगुलियों की हड्डी के जोड़ खिसक जाते हैं। इसलिए अगर आपको भी अंगुलियां चटकाने की आदत है, तो बेहतर यह करते हुए ज्यादा जोर न लगाएं।

पकड़ (ग्रिप) कमजोर होना
74 ऐसे लोग जो लगातार अपनी अंगुलियां चटकाते हैं, उन पर एक अध्ययन किया गया था। यह अध्ययन 1990 में प्रकाशित हुआ था। इसके मुताबिक जो लोग नियमित अंगुलियां चटकाते हैं, उनकी पकड़ कमजोर हो जाती है।

अंगुलियों में सूजन
इस अध्ययन से यह भी पता चला था कि जो लोग लगातार अपनी अंगुलियां चटकाते हैं, उनकी अंगुलियों में सूजन आ जाती है जबकि जो लोग नहीं चटकाते उनको इस तरह की समस्या नहीं आती। अध्ययन में 74 लोगों के अलावा 226 लोग और शामिल थे। उन लोगों को सूजन या पकड़ में किसी तरह की समस्या नहीं आई थी, क्योंकि वे नियमित अंगुलियां नहीं चटकाते थे।

क्या उंगलियां चटकाने से आर्थराइटिस हो सकता है?
कुछ लोगों को लगता है कि उंगली चटकाने से कई तरह की समस्या हो सकती है। जबकि अब तक कोई भी ऐसा शोध या अध्ययन नहीं हुआ है, जिसने व्यापक रूप से साबित किया हो उंगली चटकाने से कोई समस्या होती है। खासकर अर्थराइटिस की बात करें तो यह समस्या भी उंगली चटकाने से नहीं होती।

डॉक्टर को दिखाने की ज़रूरत कब होती है – Doctor ko kab dikhayen

जैसा कि आपको इस बात से वाकिफ हैं कि उंगली चटकाने से किसी तरह का नुकसान नहीं होता। इसके बावजूद बार-बार या बहुत ज्यादा उंगली चटकाने से कुछ नुकसान देखने को मिलते हैं। इन लक्षणों पर गौर करें और जरूरत होने पर डाॅक्टर से संपर्क करें।

  • जब अंगुलियों में सूजन हो, रंग बदल जाए या फिर फूल जाए।
  • अगर अंगुलियों को पूरी तरह स्ट्रेच न कर सकें।
  • अंगुलियों की पोर में सुन्नपन हो।
  • जब हथेली और अंगुली मोड़ने के दौरान दर्द हो। (और पढ़ें – हाथ में दर्द का इलाज)
  • अगर सुबह नींद से उठने के बाद हाथ लगभग 30 मिनट तक अकड़ जाए।
  • अगर अंगुलियों में जलन महसूस हो।
  • अगर जोड़ों में अत्यधिक दर्द हो। (और पढ़ें – जोड़ों में दर्द का इलाज)
  • अगर अंगुलियों को मोड़ने में समस्या आए।

Knuckle cracking is a common habit but, as with any habit, if you want to break it, you must firstly ensure that you have the desire to stop.

Is the habit harmful? Does it matter if you don’t stop cracking your knuckles?

Although there is no evidence that knuckle cracking leads to arthritis – as was once assumed – it can lead to other problems. For example, It can cause swelling of the joints and reduction of hand control and strength.

Depending upon its severity, knuckle cracking can be a sign of more serious nervous disorders, or even deeper psychological issues.

What actually causes the cracking sound?

The act of knuckle cracking pulls the bones and cartilage apart which releases the synovial fluid that lubricates the joint. This fluid comprises a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen; when brought into contact with air it turns into a gas – and that’s what makes the “popping” sound.

What are the dangers of knuckle cracking?

People who have cracked their knuckles for very long periods of time have developed symptoms that include:

  • Slightly reduced hand strength.
  • Swollen or painful hands.
  • Soft tissue damage to the joint capsule(s).
  • Damage to the hand’s ligaments, the soft tissues that connect our bones.

How to stop? Use Behavioral Therapy!

If you want to stop, then behavioral therapy techniques are the solution.

There are two basic forms of behavioral therapy: positive and negative.

Positive behavioral therapy includes techniques like reward systems.

Negative techniques include minor punishments or other reminders to make the person aware of their habit, so they can stop.

Here is a summary of the various options:

  1. Keep your hands busy. – Learn to twirl a pencil or a coin, for example.
  2. Take up some kind of hobby that keeps your hands (and mind) busy, like drawing, writing, or arts and crafts.
  3. Use the rubber band method – When you notice you are about to crack your knuckles pull on the rubber band and snap it back onto your skin. The slight sting you feel will help you to break your habit as you will come to associate your knuckle cracking with pain.
  4. Carry a small hand lotion tube around with you in your pocket or purse. When you feel the urge to crack your knuckles, rub the lotion on your hands – it gives you something else to do.
  5. More drastically – put tape around your “knocking knuckles” or tape your fingertips to your palm to make a fist.
  6. Put socks on your hands while watching television or doing other activities that don’t require the use of your hands.
  7. Keep a pen/pencil in your hand to prevent cracking or “strumming” your fingers.

Knuckle cracking is a nervous symptom of something in your subconscious mind. If you want to stop, it is important to become aware of it and to make the conscious decision to stop whenever you find yourself doing it. Try to discover the source of the anxiety or stress.

For those of you whose friend or partner is a knuckle cracker, bear in mind that nagging or complaining about the habit is more likely to make it worse than make it go away.

Nagging only leads to more stress, which increases the nervous reaction to that stress. Gentle reminders are much more effective than constant nagging.

If you still find that you are unable to stop cracking your knuckles, seek professional help.

Do you crack your knuckles – or have you managed to stop?

Share your experience and thoughts with our readers by using the comments feed provided below.

Some tips that might help you break the habit:

  1. Think about why you crack your knuckles and address any underlying issues.
  2. Find another way to relieve stress, such as deep breathing, exercise, or meditation.
  3. Occupy your hands with other stress relievers, such as squeezing a stress ball or rubbing a worry stone.

What are the side effects of cracking knuckles?

  • Side effects. Cracking your knuckles shouldn’t be painful, cause swelling, or change the shape of the joint. If any of these things happen, something else is going on. Although it’s not easy, if you pull hard enough, it’s possible to pull your finger out of the joint or injure the ligaments around the joint.

Why am I addicted to cracking my knuckles?

“Aside from some degree of compulsion [aka decades of habit], cracking the knuckles actually releases several pounds of pressure from the joints,” Weiss explains. As you use your hands throughout the day and the muscles tighten up, the joints end up feeling tight as well.

Why am I addicted to cracking my bones?

It sometimes gets embedded in the lifestyle and turns into an addiction. It gives a feeling of satisfaction when the bones get realigned, and the urge for knuckle cracking is as natural as scratching. The synovial fluid in the joints has nitrogen as a dissolved gas in it.

Why you shouldn’t crack your knuckles?

Contrary to popular belief, cracking your knuckles doesn’t actually contribute to the development of arthritis. However, there is the potential to cause injury to your hands if done improperly or with too much force.

What happens if you crack your knuckles too much?

” Cracking your knuckles does no harm at all to our joints,” says Dr. Klapper. “It does not lead to arthritis.” ‘Cracking your knuckles does no harm at all to our joints.

Does cracking your knuckles make them fatter?

Cracking Your Knuckles, may be Annoying, but is Not harmful For many years people have asserted that cracking your knuckles will make them fat or give you arthritis. There is no proven link between arthritis of any kind and cracking your knuckles.

Does cracking knuckles cause arthritis?

Cracking your knuckles may aggravate the people around you, but it probably won’t raise your risk for arthritis.

Why can’t I stop popping my joints?

If you want to stop your joints from popping, there’s only one solution: get up and get moving. “Motion is lotion,” as the saying goes. Stretching and movement should prevent muscle tightness and keep your joints lubricated, thus preventing them from rubbing together.

Why does my son cracked his knuckles?

Knuckle cracking is a common behavior enjoyed by many. It can become a habit or a way to deal with nervous energy; some describe it as a way to “release tension.” For some, it’s simply an annoying thing that other people do.

Is it OK to crack your back?

Cracking your own back won’t lead to any health issues if you do it safely. Avoid cracking your back too often, forcing it into positions, or using too much pressure. Do stretches and exercises that promote a healthy spine and apply ice and heat to the affected area if needed.

Stop cracking your knuckles! That’s a common plea from a parent trying to protect their children’s hands, or from someone who’s simply annoyed by the noise. Come to think about it, is cracking your knuckles just an irritating habit or is it actually harmful? Can cracking your knuckles cause arthritis?

Cracking your knuckles does not cause arthritis. Understanding what physically occurs when you crack your knuckles will help you realize that the “knuckle cracking causes arthritis” theory is actually just a popular myth. That’s good news if you like to crack your knuckles, but it’s bad news for those of us who can’t stand it when you do it. We’ll have to come up with some other reason to get you to stop.

How the Knuckle Joint Works and Why You Can Crack It

A joint is formed where the ends of two bones come together. The ends of the two bones are covered by articular cartilage. The cartilage is surrounded by what is called the joint capsule. Inside the joint capsule, there is synovial fluid which serves as a lubricant for the joint and also as a source of nutrients for the cells that maintain the joint cartilage.

Synovial fluid contains dissolved gasses – oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. When you crack your knuckles or when pressure is applied to a joint, the pressure inside the joint capsule expands but the expansion is limited by how much synovial fluid is contained in the joint. Synovial fluid cannot expand unless pressure inside the joint capsule drops and the dissolved gasses can escape out of the fluid. The cracking sound comes from the gasses rapidly being released from the fluid.

Study Conclusions on Whether Knuckle Cracking Causes Arthritis

There have been a few studies over the years that considered whether or not cracking knuckles caused arthritis. One study found that there was no increase of hand arthritis among knuckle crackers, however, knuckle cracking was related to hand swelling and lower grip strength.

Another study indicated that while knuckle cracking was not associated with arthritis, it was associated with damage to ligaments that surround the joint and dislocation of tendons. While cracking your knuckles is not linked to causing arthritis, there may be a connection to soft tissue injuries.

A study from 2011 looked at 215 people who had a hand X-ray within the past five years. It’s interesting that 20% of them were habitual knuckle-crackers. The good news for those folks is that they were at no greater risk for hand osteoarthritis and it didn’t matter how long they had been knuckle-crackers or how often they did it each day.

Cracking Sounds You Don’t Intend

People with arthritis of the hands or other conditions such as bursitis and tendinitis may feel snapping of the tendons and hear cracking sounds as the tendons can’t glide easily over the swollen tissues. These sounds and sensations may be why some think painless knuckle cracking might lead to arthritis. But they are not actually associated.

Quick Answer: Why can’t i crack my knuckles anymore?

Why can’t I crack my knuckles anymore?

Not everyone can produce a knuckle crack. “Some people cannot crack their knuckles because the spacing between their knuckles is too large for this to happen,” said Barakat.

Is it bad if you don’t crack your knuckles?

This common habit will not destroy your hands. In fact, it may help your fingers feel a sense of relief. “There’s a common misconception that if you crack your knuckles, you’re going to develop arthritis,” says Mala Kaul, M.D., a rheumatologist at Piedmont. “But the truth is, you won’t.”

What do you do when your knuckles won’t crack?

Some tips that might help you break the habit:

  1. Think about why you crack your knuckles and address any underlying issues.
  2. Find another way to relieve stress, such as deep breathing, exercise, or meditation.
  3. Occupy your hands with other stress relievers, such as squeezing a stress ball or rubbing a worry stone.

Why does it get easier to crack your knuckles?

Of course, cracking a joint does cause the the material holding the joint and surrounding connective tissue to stretch. Over time, repeated joint cracking can loosen the tissue. This makes it easier to crack the joints — and that’s why knuckle crackers have joints that are particularly susceptible to popping.

How do knuckles crack?

The “pop” of a cracked knuckle is caused by bubbles bursting in the synovial fluid — the fluid that helps lubricate joints. The bubbles pop when you pull the bones apart, either by stretching the fingers or bending them backward, creating negative pressure.

What happens if you crack your knuckles every day?

Klapper. According to Dr. Klapper, knuckle cracking itself does no harm to your fingers, neck, ankles, or other joints that pop and crack throughout the day—whether from normal day-to-day motions or compulsive habits like pressing our knuckles or twisting your neck until you hear that familiar crack.

Why does popping knuckles feel good?

When cracking your fingers, toes, shoulders, elbows, back, or neck, the sense of relief is achieved when that tension is released. The joint feels relaxed again, which helps to alleviate stress in the body. There is actually no evidence that cracking your fingers is harmful or can cause damage.

Is it OK to crack your back?

In moderation, the answer is no. Studies have shown that occasionally cracking your back can help relieve pressure in your spine without adverse effects. However, when done habitually, popping can cause excessive wear on your joints and potentially lead to premature breakdown.

What happens if you crack your knuckles too much?

In terms of knuckle cracking, some studies show that knuckle cracking does not cause serious harm. Other studies show that repetitive knuckle cracking can do some damage to the soft tissue of the joint. It may also lead to a weak grip and a swelling hand.

Can your fingers get fat from cracking them?

For many years people have asserted that cracking your knuckles will make them fat or give you arthritis. Studies, however, have consistently shown that cracking your knuckles does not improve or harm your joints. There is no proven link between arthritis of any kind and cracking your knuckles.

Is it bad to crack your neck?

How risky is it to crack your neck? Cracking your neck can be harmful if you don’t do it correctly or if you do it too often. Cracking your neck too forcefully can pinch the nerves in your neck. Pinching a nerve can be extremely painful and make it difficult or impossible to move your neck.

Is it bad to pop your toes?

Knuckle “cracking” has not been shown to be harmful or beneficial. More specifically, knuckle cracking does not cause arthritis. Joint “cracking” can result from a negative pressure pulling nitrogen gas temporarily into the joint, such as when knuckles are “cracked.” This is not harmful.

What are finger knuckles called?

The knuckles of the hand are referred to as the MCP joint, which stands for metacarpal-phalangeal joint (because the fingers, composed of phalanges, join the palm, made of metacarpals). The joints in the fingers are called the PIP and DIP joints.

Why can I crack my big toe repeatedly?

The sound your toe joints make when you bend or crack them can be harmless, or they can be a signal of serious health issues like arthritis, especially if other symptoms are present. Other conditions that can cause cracking toes include past toe injuries, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bone spurs, and gout.

This article was co-authored by Eric Christensen, DPT. Eric Christensen is a Physical Therapist based in Chandler, Arizona. With over a decade of experience, Eric works in both orthopedic and neurological fields and specializes in custom orthotic prescription and casting, vestibular reprogramming, and manual therapy. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science with a focus in Sports Medicine from Colorado State University and a Doctor of Physical Therapy from Regis University. In practice, Eric takes a developmental approach to rehabilitation utilizing the Selective Functional Movement Assessment. He uses functional movement patterning and manual therapy to return patients to prior levels of function.

There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

This article has been viewed 2,155,216 times.

When you’ve been staring at your screen too long, you might have a stiff neck and want to crack it. This can feel really good and relieve some tension in your stiff neck. You can gently crack your neck using your hands. Another great way to ease tension is to use a foam roller on your neck and back. Cracking your neck can provide temporary relief, but if you find yourself suffering from chronic or serious pain, it’s usually best to allow a qualified chiropractor, osteopath, or another trained professional to treat your stiff or sore neck. [1] X Trustworthy Source Mayo Clinic Educational website from one of the world’s leading hospitals Go to source

How to crack your knuckles

How Bad Is It Really? sets the record straight on all the habits and behaviors you’ve heard might be unhealthy.

If you’re one of the millions of knuckle-crackers out there, you’ve probably heard time and again that this habit will cause arthritis. But what does the science say?

Video of the Day

Here’s the real deal on what happens when you give your joints a snap, crackle and pop.

Why Knuckles Crack

Somewhere between 25 and 45 percent of people crack their knuckles, according to an April 2017 study in ​Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research.​

“Some find knuckle cracking pleasurable because the movement of tendons and ligaments around the joint can relieve tension,” rheumatologist Magdalena Cadet, MD, assistant professor of medicine at New York University Grossman School of Medicine, tells LIVESTRONG.com. “Others enjoy the soothing popping sound, and it can provide a distraction when you are stressed.”

But have you ever wondered what’s causing your joints to make so much noise?

“The knuckles are protected by a capsule containing synovial fluid, which contains nutrients and also lubricates the joints,” Dr. Cadet says. “When one cracks the knuckles by stretching, bending or twisting the fingers, negative pressure may cause a variety of gases, including nitrogen or carbon dioxide, to be temporarily pulled into the joints.”

These gases release bubbles that create a popping sound when they collapse, per a March 2018 study in ​Nature.​

“You might also hear cracking caused by the movement of tendons and ligaments around the joint,” Dr. Cadet says. “Researchers theorize that once an individual cracks their knuckles, it may take up to half an hour before the knuckles can be cracked again, due to the time that it takes for the gases to re-dissolve into the synovial joint fluid.”

That’s why you can’t crack the same knuckle twice in a row.

As for people who aren’t able to crack at all: “There is a theory that some individuals have large spacing between the knuckles, which makes them unable to perform this maneuver,” Dr. Cadet says.

These folks may be lucky, because knuckle-popping can become addictive.

“Repetitive cracking can become a habit over time as an individual begins to do it subconsciously,” Dr. Cadet says.

by Matthew Caines / in Health

How to crack your knuckles

It’s a common misconception that cracking your knuckles can cause arthritis. Cracking the joints in your fingers can actually relieve tension and pressure located in the hands. The popping noise heard when cracking your joints, occurs due to nitrogen being pulled into the joint through negative pressure. Cracking and popping sounds can also be heard when tendons snap over body tissues due of minor adjustments in their gliding paths. As a general rule, painless cracking of the knuckles is not seen a dangerous.

  • It’s a common misconception that cracking your knuckles can cause arthritis.
  • Cracking the joints in your fingers can actually relieve tension and pressure located in the hands.

Curl your left hand up into a closed fist with your thumb pointing away from the fingers; not tucked inside. Hold the left hand in front of your body and point it to your right. Your thumb should be pointing at your chest.

Flatten your right hand into a straight edge with your fingers close together. Connect the base of your palm with the bent knuckles of your left hand.

Push very gently with the palm of your right hand to exert some pressure onto the bent knuckles of your left. Curl the fingers of your right hand over the closed fist, if you need more leverage.

  • Flatten your right hand into a straight edge with your fingers close together.
  • Push very gently with the palm of your right hand to exert some pressure onto the bent knuckles of your left.

Crack your knuckles loudly by exerting more pressure over all four finger knuckles at the same time, until they crack. If done properly, you should hear the loud combined cracking of four joints and not just one.

Repeat with the right hand, but in the opposite directions.

Consult a doctor or medical professional, if you ever feel pain when cracking your knuckles. Pain may indicate underlying abnormalities in the structures of the joint; such as loose cartilage or damaged ligaments.

You can also gently pull on the ends of your fingers to stimulate a crack from the knuckles, although the sound is far quieter than pushing on them directly. Sufferers of arthritis, bursitis or tendinitis are likely to hear involuntary cracking sounds due to the snapping or irregular swollen tissues in the joints.

WARNING

Do not force your joints to crack, if they are not making any noises — doing so could lead to both temporary and permanent joint damage.

How to crack your knuckles

You may have been told as a kid cracking your knuckles is bad for you. But the truth is, it’s harmless, and won’t cause arthritis or make your knuckles bigger.

Orthopedic hand surgeon Dr. Jason Somogyi explains to Insider that your knuckles are two bones connected together by a joint capsule. That capsule is filled with fluid to prevent the bones from rubbing against each other. When you crack your knuckles, you’re pulling the bones slightly apart, which changes the pressure in the joint capsule. “This change in pressure causes the formation of a gas bubble which causes the audible crack,” Somogyi says. “The short term change in pressure in each joint you crack is unlikely to have any negative impact on the cartilage of the joint,” Somogyi says.

If you feel pain when cracking your knuckles or notice your knuckles are increasing size, it could mean you are experiencing other medical issues. Dr. Somogyi recommends talking to your doctor if you notice pain, swelling, or grinding in your knuckles, regardless if you crack your knuckles.

Texas Orthopedics board certified hand surgeons treat common hand and wrist conditions including carpal tunnel syndrome, Dupuytren’s Contracture, and deQuervain’s Tendonitis.

Be sure to follow Texas Orthopedics on Facebook and Instagram for the lastest news and updates.

Chances are that you’ve known a few people who periodically crack their knuckles out of habit or as a way to release nervous energy. Or perhaps you’re a knuckle-cracker yourself! The sound of joints popping may be annoying to hear, but is cracking knuckles actually harmful to a person’s health?

This article explores the potential risks of cracking your knuckles and when it can become problematic.

How to crack your knucklesPhoto credit: Jaysin Trevino via Flickr

What Causes the Cracking Noise?

The familiar sound of a joint cracking is often caused when nitrogen gas is pulled into a joint and creates negative pressure. Tendons snapping over tissues as they adjust during their paths of movement can cause the sound as well. People may notice more joint popping as they get older or become more active after a period of being sedentary.

Is Knuckle Cracking Bad?

Research observations and medical studies have not been able to link the cracking of joints to any real or immediate harm. This is good news if you’re a chronic knuckle-cracker who isn’t interested in changing your habits anytime soon. It was once a common misconception that knuckle cracking led to arthritis, but the science simply isn’t there to prove this myth to be accurate.

Therefore, the main harm in cracking your knuckles is just social annoyance. This habit alone is not likely to cause reduced grip strength or finger swelling, however.

How to crack your knucklesPhoto credit: Glenn Strong via Flickr

Concerns About Knuckle Cracking

However, cracking your knuckles should never be painful or result in other symptoms. If you feel pain when you crack your knuckles or any other joint, this could be a sign of loose cartilage or a ligament that is injured. Joint issues can often be addressed by homeopathic remedies, such as Seagate’s Shark Cartilage. Unexplained, long-lasting, or severe joint pain may warrant a trip to a trusted healthcare professional to diagnose what is causing an increase in popping or other symptoms.

How to Stop Cracking Your Knuckles

Knuckle cracking can be a hard habit to break, especially if you’ve done it for many years. If you’re interested in stopping, it helps to keep you hands busy with something else, such as a stress ball, worry stone, or fidget spinner. You can also rub lotion in your hands when you feel the urge to crack your knuckles as a way of giving your hands something else to do instead.

Take notice of the moments when you find yourself cracking your knuckles and what is going on mentally at that time. If any triggers or patterns come to mind, jot those things down in a journal so that you can work through those issues in more positive ways. Deep breathing exercises and meditation have helped many people break common habits, such as cracking their knuckles.

FAQ: Why do we crack your knuckles?

Is it bad to crack your knuckles?

Knucklecracking” has not been shown to be harmful or beneficial. More specifically, knuckle cracking does not cause arthritis. Joint “cracking” can result from a negative pressure pulling nitrogen gas temporarily into the joint, such as when knuckles are “cracked.” This is not harmful.

What does it mean if you crack your knuckles?

The “pop” of a cracked knuckle is caused by bubbles bursting in the synovial fluid — the fluid that helps lubricate joints. The bubbles pop when you pull the bones apart, either by stretching the fingers or bending them backward, creating negative pressure.

Why does it feel good to crack your knuckles?

Is It Okay to Crack My Joints? When cracking your fingers, toes, shoulders, elbows, back, or neck, the sense of relief is achieved when that tension is released. The joint feels relaxed again, which helps to alleviate stress in the body.

Why is cracking knuckles so addictive?

“Aside from some degree of compulsion [aka decades of habit], cracking the knuckles actually releases several pounds of pressure from the joints,” Weiss explains. As you use your hands throughout the day and the muscles tighten up, the joints end up feeling tight as well.

Is it OK to crack your back?

In moderation, the answer is no. Studies have shown that occasionally cracking your back can help relieve pressure in your spine without adverse effects. However, when done habitually, popping can cause excessive wear on your joints and potentially lead to premature breakdown.

Why can I crack my toes constantly?

The sound your toe joints make when you bend or crack them can be harmless, or they can be a signal of serious health issues like arthritis, especially if other symptoms are present. Other conditions that can cause cracking toes include past toe injuries, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bone spurs, and gout.

Is it bad to crack your neck?

How risky is it to crack your neck? Cracking your neck can be harmful if you don’t do it correctly or if you do it too often. Cracking your neck too forcefully can pinch the nerves in your neck. Pinching a nerve can be extremely painful and make it difficult or impossible to move your neck.

What happens when we crack fingers?

Escaping gases: Scientists explain that synovial fluid present in your joints acts as a lubricant. The fluid contains the gases oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. When you pop or crack a joint, you stretch the joint capsule. Gas is rapidly released, which forms bubbles.

Why does popping back feel good?

Back cracking also causes endorphins to be released around the area that was adjusted. Endorphins are chemicals produced by the pituitary gland that are meant to manage pain in your body, and they can make you feel super satisfied when you crack a joint.

Why do my wrists click?

When the tendon in the wrist that connects the joint to the bone is damaged, it begins to rub over the bone or muscles in its way (instead of moving fluidly) and causes the “snapping” or “popping” sensation. The tendon moves in this irregular way because its foundation, the ligaments, have also become damaged or lax.

Why do I hear crunching in my neck?

You may hear or feel clicking or grating as you move your head. This is called crepitus, and it can be caused by air bubbles popping, or tissues and bones moving over each other, in the joint. Other joints often do this too, but noises from your neck usually seem louder because they’re happening closer to your ears.

How do you pop your middle back?

While standing, make a fist with one hand and wrap your opposite hand around it at the base of your spine. Push up on the spine with your hands at a slight upward angle. Lean back, using the pressure of your hands to crack your back. Move your hands up your spine and do the same stretch at different levels.

What happens if you crack your knuckles every day?

Klapper. According to Dr. Klapper, knuckle cracking itself does no harm to your fingers, neck, ankles, or other joints that pop and crack throughout the day—whether from normal day-to-day motions or compulsive habits like pressing our knuckles or twisting your neck until you hear that familiar crack.

How do I stop my bones from cracking?

One way to avoid creaking joints is to get up and move as much as you can during the day, Dr. Stearns says. “We say motion is lotion – the more you move, the more your body lubricates itself,” Dr. Stearns says.

Why won’t my knuckles crack anymore?

Not everyone can produce a knuckle crack. “Some people cannot crack their knuckles because the spacing between their knuckles is too large for this to happen,” said Barakat.

  • How to crack your knuckles

To understand what happens when you crack your knuckles, I think it is important to first have a general idea of the anatomy of a knuckle. A knuckle is the joint (meeting place) between two bones in your hand and/or finger. Each knuckle is surrounded by a joint capsule (tissue that wraps around the joint) and held together by various ligaments (bands of connective tissue). The ends of the bones in the knuckle are in very close proximity to each other, with a small space between them called the joint space. This space is filled with a very slippery fluid called synovial fluid.

At first, when you pull on your finger, the viscous adhesion, or tension between the two bones, resists their separation. Once enough force is applied to your finger to overcome the adhesion or tension, there is a rapid increase in the size of joint space and a gas bubble forms in the joint space. The noise associated with cracking your knuckles is produced at the same time as the gas bubble forms. Once you let go of your finger, the gas bubble is reabsorbed by the fluid in the joint.

Have a look at the video below to see it happen in real time. Notice that as the finger is first being pulled on, there is very little change in the size of the joint space (the dark line between the two whiter and brighter bones). As the pulling force continues to increase, there is a sudden and quick increase in the size of the joint space and a black line, which indicates the formation of the gas bubble, suddenly appears. Although you cannot hear it on the video, the cracking noise occurs at the same time as the black line appears.

As an aside, there is no evidence to suggest that cracking your knuckles can give you arthritis. A study published in 2011 looked at the prevalence of osteoarthritis in the knuckles of those who cracked their fingers versus those who didn’t. What they found was that people who cracked their knuckles were no more likely to get arthritis in their hands than those who didn’t crack their knuckles, regardless of how long the knuckle crackers had been cracking their knuckles.

How to crack your knuckles

Whether intentionally or unintentionally, most of us have cracked a joint before. And if you cracked your joints a lot as a kid, a parent probably told you it was going to destroy all your bones. But let’s hold up for a minute; is cracking your bones or joints actually all that bad for you?

What Causes Your Joints to Crack?

It turns out “crackly bubble wrap bones” has a real name–crepitus. Like all sciency words, it’s derived from Latin.

Painless cracking in your bones, something you’ve likely experienced, is caused by popping synovial fluid. That sounds really bad, but give us a second.

In between your bones and joints, there is fluid–the synovial fluid we just name-dropped.

Basically, it’s kind of like bone lube. It keeps your bones and cartilage (softer stuff between bones) from wearing down as much over time. So; when you put an arbitrary amount of force on your joints, you can create little nitrogen bubbles in your joints. When it pops, you get the cracking noise.

Oh, and your knuckles and neck tend to pop easier simply because you have to exert less force to create the bubbles. That’s really it.

Other causes include rapid stretching of the ligaments or pressure changes. The pressure changes, like the bubbles, work the same way. Sometimes bubbles just form on their own–which is why your bones can crack after you sit for a while.

Is Cracking Your Bones Bad?

Let’s be real, you’re probably here because your mom told you one time that cracking your knuckles would give you arthritis. So is cracking your bones actually bad? Can cracking them cause arthritis?

Luckily for you, cracking your knuckles before your big speech or starting your next research paper will not give you arthritis. Generally. If it causes pain that’s another issue. That would suggest you might have a separate health problem.

But anyway, you’re not giving yourself arthritis by cracking your bones. The cracking of joints that comes from arthritis is better considered a symptom than it is a cause. But yes, cracking bones can be a sign of arthritis, since your bones are grinding away and wearing at each other. Which, if you’ve ever rubbed your nails on a chalkboard, doesn’t sound like a great time.

If you really want to feel safe, look no further than Ig Nobel Prize winner Donald Unger. Quick recap, the Ig Nobel Prize is like the Nobel Prize but for dumb things, like calculating the exact coefficient of friction of a banana peel.

Back to Unger, he went 60 years cracking the knuckles on only one hand to prove that cracking his knuckles would not give him arthritis. He did not get arthritis.

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How to crack your knuckles

No, cracking or popping your knuckles is not that bad for you. Cracking your joints or knuckles is an interesting and yet poorly understood phenomenon. There are several theories that explain why joints pop or crack, but there is no explanation of the exact cause.

Medical research shows that there is no harm in cracking your knuckles as long as it stays painless. However, a person must be aware of the fact that repetitive cracking of knuckles might be potentially bothersome in some social gathering or might be physically troublesome for the person doing it.

It is important to understand that where this cracking sound is coming from as we crack our knuckles. The sound comes after the increasing of the spaces between the joints of fingers which causes the gas bubbles to fill into the joint fluid that later burst or collapse — thus producing the cracking sound. It is somewhat similar to blowing up a balloon and then stretching the surface of the walls of a balloon to the outer surface until it pops. Moreover, it takes some time (approximately 20 minutes) for the gas bubbles to fill in the joint fluid again and for this reason, you cannot crack the same knuckle twice in a row.

Harm vs Benefits Of Cracking Knuckles

There is no distinctive evidence behind the harm and benefits of cracking your joints. However, there are clear researchers indicating that arthritis does not result from knuckle cracking. The studies also suggest that knuckle or any joint cracking might be resulting from a negative pressure that pulls nitrogen gas into the joints temporarily thus causing the pop in the joints. You can hear the cracking sounds of the joints if the tendons start snapping over tissues may be because of small adjustments in the gliding passages of the tendons. The tendon snapping over tissues might also be due to the loss of muscle mass which is more common in older adults.

The cracking of knuckles is neither harmful nor beneficial. However, there might be serious consequences for a person who pulls his knuckle in the wrong direction or puts extra pressure on them. If the cracking of knuckles comes with some pain or swelling in the joints, then there is a great possibility of structural abnormalities and functional disabilities.

The usual cracking of knuckles might cause injury of the ligaments or loosen up the cartilage, but this might be a possibility if the person puts too much pressure on their joints. Some people with bursitis, arthritis, or tendinitis might notice cracking sounds due to the popping of swollen and irregular tissues. Furthermore, there are occasional cases of tendon injuries or dislocations due to vigorous knuckle cracking. The problems resulting from knuckle cracking are not the rule and might happen exceptionally.

There are rare medical occoccurences of problems resulting from cracking of knuckles and relate highly to how much force you are applying and the technique of cracking. For instance, tendon injuries and joint dislocations give a description after attempts to crack their knuckles. A study involving 74 people regularly cracking their knuckles shows that there were instances of swelling of fingers and their grip strength was also lower compared to the other 226 people who were not cracking their knuckles.

By Ehren Allen, DPT/Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist

Cracking Your Knuckles

What happens when you crack your knuckles? It may be background noise, or it may be like nails on a chalkboard, but there is nothing quite like hearing the sound of someone cracking their knuckles. As a child, I was a habitual knuckle cracker. My parents constantly fussed at me about it. “It’s not good for you” and “you’ll get arthritis,” they would say. But I couldn’t resist. It felt good. I grew up thinking this was a bad habit. But I never really understood what actually happens when you crack your knuckles.

Person cracking their knuckles

What Are The Knuckles?

“Knuckle” is a common term to describe joints in the hands and fingers. A common joint that people tend to crack is the Metacarpophalangeal joint or MCP. Some people crack every joint in their fingers.

Anatomy of the human hand and wrist.

There are many joints in the hands and fingers. The bones of those joints are connected by ligaments that allow movement. A joint capsule also connects the joints. The capsule is a closed space between the joint’s surfaces that contain a lubricant called synovial fluid. The lubricant allows for smooth movement as the joint moves during activity. It also contains nutrients to supply the surfaces of the joint.

What Happens When You Crack Your Knuckles?

The quick answer is that cracking your knuckles causes a reaction inside the joint. The joint capsule houses the lubricant for the joint. The capsule is a closed structure and does not allow the lubricant out. The lubricant in the capsule is a thick and viscose material. As it moves inside the capsule, it can build up little bubbles of nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide gases. When you quickly pull, stretch, or flex a joint in the fingers, the joint capsule stretches, and those bubbles can pop. This is what creates the “cracking” sound.

Does Cracking Your Knuckles Cause Arthritis?

There have been numerous studies performed to determine whether cracking your knuckles causes arthritis. Many of the studies used ultrasound imaging and MRIs to determine the difference in joints’ health in the hand between those who crack their knuckles and those who do not. Overwhelmingly, studies show no significant difference in the incidence of osteoarthritis between knuckle crackers and non-knuckle crackers. So the answer is NO, cracking your knuckles does not cause arthritis.

What happens when you crack your knuckles

Is Cracking Your Knuckles a Bad Habit?

Knuckle cracking is definitely a habit for many. One reason is that it feels good. When the bubbles are popped, there can be an immediate increase in the movement of the joint. This is because the gas bubbles take up space. When they release, there is more room for movement, at least temporarily. The bubbles re-form, and the joint can be popped again soon.

But there may also be a chemical reason that it feels good. When the joint pops, natural chemicals can be release call endorphins. Endorphins are “feel good” chemicals in your body. This chemical release may also be part of what makes cracking your knuckles a habit.

But is it a bad habit? It depends on who you ask. Cracking your knuckles can be an annoyance to others, but there is no significant evidence that it causes any harm to the joints of the hands and fingers.

To schedule at one of the 12 JOI Rehab Centers, please call 904-858-7045.

Conclusion:

Cracking your knuckles is really not bad for you. But if you have hand or knuckle issues, orthopedic doctors and therapists specialize in the hand. The Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute can help you in our offices and with telemedicine appointments. JOI also offers ASAP fracture and Injury Care. We are your “Knuckle Experts”!

To schedule an appointment in our offices or online, Call 904-JOI-2000 or click the link below.

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Image of Ehren Allen, DPT, COMT – Content Writer

How to crack your knuckles

Do you crack your knuckles when you sleep? If you’ve been doing it since you were a kid, then you’re probably not alone. It’s a long-held superstition that it’s bad for your joints, but does it actually cause arthritis?

Cracking Our Knuckles — Arthritis Truth or Joke?

For many, cracking a knuckle is an annoying habit, but do you know why you do it? And how can it lead to osteoarthritis, a serious joint disease? Some reasons you might crack knuckles are a habit or stress or a genetic predisposition that makes it harder for your joints to cope with stress.

The medical community is still divided about the impact of cracking knuckles, as there is no conclusive evidence that it causes arthritis. Other links between knuckle cracking and arthritis have been observed, but there are no definitive studies that have documented a direct connection between the two.

Whether you crack your knuckles, roll your ankle, or break your arm at the gym, you probably know that this act can cause pain and potential joint damage. But did you know that it can also lead to arthritis?

Cracking It Might Be a Bad Idea for You

The pain and inflammation that settles in your joints after a few years of cracking your knuckles are not just caused by the act of cracking them. Your body builds up a tolerance to the repetitive pressure, and it results in a condition that can lead to arthritis.

Some studies suggest that chronic repetitive stress at the joints can lead to arthritis, yet other studies are inconclusive. But what’s indisputable is that you can’t crack your knuckles without causing at least a mild case of arthritis, which could potentially be minimized by avoiding those little pops–but what to do if you really can’t stop knuckle cracking?

What is Knuckle Cracking?

“Knuckle cracking” is a relatively common condition, especially among people who do a lot of typing or other computer-related activities. The most obvious symptom is cracking the knuckles as much as possible while performing a repetitive action. However, two other symptoms can appear during long-term cracking, and they are pain and joint inflammation.

The “knuckle crack” is the way we relieve stress and tension, and it’s most common amongst knuckle-heads such as myself. Whether it’s the stress of a job interview or the more severe case of depression, the knuckle crack provides a quick and effective release of stress during times of need. It’s a natural reflex, and in most cases, can’t be stopped. But, can it really cause arthritis? And if it does, is there a way to stop it?

As stated above, there are no definitive studies that have documented that knuckle cracking can cause arthritis. But it doesn’t advise that you can continue cracking your knuckles. So, as much as possible, if you can stop doing it, the better. If, in the long run, doing this cracking knuckle thing will cause you to joint inflammation or pain, well, don’t blame it on science because it is clearly your fault.

Can You Avoid Arthritis?

Arthritis is a very common disease that affects millions of people worldwide. The condition causes pain in your joints, sometimes also affecting your bones and muscles, debilitating over time. There are many treatment options available, including medications and physical therapy, but there are other ways you can prevent and treat arthritis.

So, can you avoid getting it?

Yes, it’s possible. You can meet the recommended daily intake of vitamin D by simply eating a balanced diet, and you can do it with no risks to your health. Just a few generations ago, children everywhere routinely received sufficient amounts of vitamin D in their diets from exposure to sunlight. Light is a known and powerful way to boost vitamin D levels in your body, and in the last few decades, we’ve all become much more exposed to sunlight. As a result, many of us have insufficient levels of vitamin D in our bodies.

We are all sure that some of you have heard that cracking your knuckles or popping them loudly can make you more likely to develop arthritis later in life. However, this is more of a myth than a real thing. To be more specific, the idea that cracking your knuckles will cause arthritis is not only untrue, but it’s a really unhealthy myth, to begin with. So, while there are no definitive studies as well as a documented case about it, it is still best to avoid cracking your knuckles as much as possible. Whether it causes arthritis or not, taking care of one’s health will help you avoid this disease in your old age.

How to crack your knuckles

Last update: 04 May, 2022

Many of us crack our knuckles often even though some people say it could eventually lead to problems like arthritis. This bad habit gives people a sort of pleasure when they do it, and some people crack their knuckles all the time without ever thinking about the potential consequences.

What are the risks of cracking your knuckles?

A joint is a location where two bones meet. All joints are made up of an area known as a joint capsule. The joint capsule protects the joint and contains a natural lubricant known as synovial fluid. This fluid is necessary for healthy joint movement.

Also Read: Natural Remedies for Arthritis

It’s precisely this lubricant that’s responsible for the infamous “cracking” sound. That’s because there is dissolved air inside the joint capsule that you release when you apply force to your knuckles. Small air pockets escape quickly, and the characteristic sound occurs.

After you crack your knuckles it’s not possible to repeat it immediately, because the joint has to settle back to its normal position and more air must dissolve into the synovial fluid. But after about fifteen minutes, it’s possible to crack the same knuckles again.

Why do so many people enjoy cracking their knuckles?

Most experts think that knuckle cracking is a nervous habit. But it can also be a pleasurable habit because by stretching the joints, people stimulate the nerves in that area. Experts estimate that between 25% and 54% of people have this habit, and that it’s more common among men than women.

For those who practice osteoarthritic medicine, that characteristic cracking sound is a sign that they have performed the joint manipulation correctly. If it’s a bone reposition that the physician is performing, then the cracking sound indicates to him or her that he has repositioned the bone appropriately.

What happens to your knuckles when you crack them?

Lots of people crack their knuckles frequently, even though it can irritate the people around them. Studies have suggested that cracking your knuckles can actually lead to arthritis, instability in the joints, and a loss of strength or mobility in the hands. Some scientists say that cracking can damage the cartilage that protects the joint over many years. However, there’s still not enough evidence to show that this habit can eventually damage your hand motion.

One well-known study won the 2009 Ig Nobel award (an alternative award for unconventional scientific research). Donald Unger, a California physician, cracked the knuckles of his left hand for 60 years, at least twice a day. He never did the same to his right-hand knuckles. In the end, he concluded that, after six decades, he had no signs of arthritis.

Another study that was conducted in Detroit in the 1990s analyzed the hands of 300 people over the age of 45, and found that 84% of them with inflammation in the joints used to crack their knuckles. They couldn’t find a direct relationship between the habit and the inflammation, however.

In any event, it’s curious to find that only people who formerly cracked their knuckles frequently have later experienced discomfort and inflammation.

The findings of various studies contradict each other. Some argue that the habit can eventually damage the joints. Others claim it cannot. The truth is that we need more research to link knuckle cracking to arthritis later in life. Remember that this is a disorder that other factors, such as genetics and age, can cause. Many hard years of scientific work remain.

How could that knuckle “crack” really be dangerous?

Aside from the unknown relationship between cracking your knuckles and the onset of arthritis, this habit can cause other damage, such as ligament tears, finger sprains, and thumb injuries, just to name a few.

New model explains how pressure changes in joint fluid air bubbles create the noise

A person cracks their knuckles. Photograph: Image Source/REX/Shutterstock

A person cracks their knuckles. Photograph: Image Source/REX/Shutterstock

The sound of popping knuckles has long been a source of bafflement for scientists. Now researchers say they might have cracked its origins.

While previous research has shown that not all joints can make the sound, and that those that do can only be cracked once every 20 minutes or so, quite what is behind the auditory pop has been a topic of hot debate.

“The cavity in between the two knuckles is filled with a fluid that is called the synovial fluid, and when you suddenly change the pressure in that fluid as a result of increasing the spacing between the knuckles, some of the gases in that fluid can nucleate into a bubble,” said Prof Abdul Barakat of the Ecole Polytechnique’s hydrodynamics laboratory, a coauthor of the new study.

Some researchers have suggested that it is the collapse of such bubbles, formed of carbon dioxide and other gases, that causes the well-known crack, but others have proposed another possibility. “As you form this bubble you can cause pressure changes, and that can produce sound,” said Barakat.

In 2015 researchers in Canada appeared to have solved the puzzle, after one of the team had his knuckles cracked in an MRI scanner as images were taken. The verdict: the cracking sound was down to the rapid separation of the joint and bubble formation, not bubble collapse.

Barakat says the idea of delving deeper into the issue came from one of his students, a coauthor of the new research, who chose to study the phenomenon for a course project.

Noting that imaging techniques do not provide the necessary time resolution to capture the high-speed dynamics of knuckle-cracking, the pair developed a mathematical model to explore whether collapsing bubbles could be behind the sound after all.

The model, said Barakat, is based on three components: the change in pressure of the fluid as the knuckles move apart, the growth and collapse of the resulting bubble, and how changes in pressure from the bubble turn into sounds.

The team compared the sounds they would expect from collapsing bubbles produced from joint-popping, according to the model, with sound patterns recorded from a handful of knuckle-cracking participants, and found a good match between the two. By contrast, Barakat says formation of bubbles has not been shown to produce sounds of the observed magnitude or loudness.

But there is an extra nuance: some have argued that it takes longer for the bubble to collapse than for a crack to be heard, and that this makes it an unlikely source of the sound. Barakat has an answer.

“What we demonstrate here is you don’t need full collapse,” he said, pointing out that even if the bubble just partially collapsed to leave a micro-bubble, it would generate the sound on the necessary timescale. The discovery, the authors add, could explain why small bubbles have be observed in synovial fluid even after knuckle-cracking.

Dr Greg Kawchuk from the University of Alberta, a coauthor of the 2015 study, welcomed the new research. “Their main finding, that theoretical bubble collapse can create sound, is not surprising,” he said. “What makes this paper interesting is that it suggests that other phenomena may occur in between frames of the MRI video published in our prior study and that these phenomena may create sounds that are similar to those produced in knuckle-cracking.”

But, he added, the case was not yet closed, noting that the latest research is a mathematical model that has yet to be verified by experiment.

While there has been some debate about whether knuckle-cracking increases the risk of osteoarthritis, studies do not appear to support a link.

Knuckle cracking is a common behavior, and a lot of people enjoy cracking their knuckles from time to time. Over time, it can become a habit or even a way to deal with stress or anxiety. Many also describe it as a way of releasing the tension, while others simply like to crack their knuckles. While there hasn’t been much research on what the effects of knuckle cracking are, but the limited amount of research that is there indicates that it does not cause any harm to your joints. If you want to find out about why some people crack their knuckles, and if it is bad for you, here is everything you need to know on this fascinating topic.

Overview of Knuckle Cracking

Knuckle cracking is a common behavior that many people indulge in. While some people crack their knuckles when they are stressed or bored, others just do it out of habit. (1,2,3) There are many myths associated with knuckle cracking, the most common one being that it can cause arthritis. While there is not much research that has been done on the effects of knuckle cracking, but whatever little evidence is there, it indicates that knuckle cracking does not harm your joints. According to a review in the Swiss Medical Journal, no evidence was found in any of the studies that showed that cracking your knuckles can cause arthritis. (4,5,6)

Another case involved a doctor who showed that knuckle cracking does not cause arthritis by experimenting on himself. He reported that over a period of 50 years, he continued to crack his knuckles on his left hand at least two or more times in a day and never cracked his knuckles on the right hand. At the end of the experiment, the knuckles on the left hand showed no difference from the ones in the right hand. Neither hand had any signs or symptoms of arthritis. (7)

At the same time, there is also no evidence that shows that cracking your knuckles can make the joints larger or weaken the joints. Neither does it have any impact on the strength of your grip.

Why Do People Crack Their Knuckles?

Studies have found that nearly 54% of people regularly crack their knuckles. (8) Various studies showed that people do it for many reasons, some of which include:

  • Nervousness: Similar to twirling your hair or wringing your hands, cracking your knuckles is a common way to keep the hands occupied when you are feeling nervous.
  • Liking The Sound It Makes: Many people simply enjoy listening to the sound knuckle cracking makes.
  • Stress: Many people who are stressed like cracking their knuckles. It gives them a diversion, and they feel they get a release from their stress without causing harm to anything.
  • The Way It Feels: Many people think that cracking their knuckles actually creates more space in the joint, thus relieving tension and increasing mobility. However, even though it may feel like there is room, but there is no evidence to show that there is any space created.
  • Habit: Many people simply develop a habit of cracking their knuckles. Regardless of whatever the reason, you start cracking your knuckles, but it is easy to continue doing it till a point when you do it without even thinking about it. When you begin to unconsciously crack your knuckles several times a day, you know that it has become a habit. People who crack their knuckles up to five or more times in a day are known as habitual knuckle crackers.

What Makes The Pop Sound When You Crack Your Knuckles?

As mentioned above, many people like listening to the pop or cracking sound that comes when you pull your knuckles. The reason behind why the joint makes this popping or cracking noise is not clearly understood. For a long time, this popping sound was believed to come because of nitrogen bubbles that either formed or collapsed in the joint fluid. Another belief was that it came from the movements of the ligaments around that knuckle.

However, in 2015, a study was carried out that observed the knuckles while they were being cracked under an MRI. The MRI found that a cavity formed because of the negative pressure that was created due to the joint being pulled apart quickly. The researchers determined that the popping sound was made by the formation of this cavity. However, they could not find any explanation behind the loudness of the sound. (9)

Another study in 2018 suggested that the popping sound was made due to the partial collapse of the cavity. (10) A review of various studies was carried out, and it found that it took around 20 minutes for the cavity to completely collapse in order for a new cavity to form. This is also believed to be the reason why once you crack your knuckles, it is not possible to immediately do it again. (11)

Are There Any Side Effects To Cracking Your Knuckles?

Generally, cracking your knuckles should not be a painful exercise. It should not cause swelling or any change to the shape of the joint. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms when you crack your knuckles, this could be an indication that some other problem is there.

Even though it happens rarely, but if you end up pulling hard enough, you can actually manage to pull your finger out of the joint or cause serious injury to the ligaments around your joints.

If you find that your joints have become swollen or painful while you are cracking your knuckles, it is most likely because of an underlying medical condition, like gout or arthritis. (12,13)

How To Stop Cracking Your Knuckles?

Even though knuckle cracking is unlikely to harm you, but it might be distracting and irritating to the people around you. If it becomes a habit, you may find it difficult to stop.

Here are some tips that may help you break the habit of knuckle cracking:

  • If you crack your knuckles as a way to relieve stress, try alternative solutions like exercise, meditation, or deep breathing.
  • Think about why you are cracking your knuckles and deal with any underlying issues that come up.
  • Try to be aware of the times you are cracking your knuckles and try to consciously stop yourself.
  • Keep your hands occupied with other stress relievers, such as using a stress ball or rubbing a worry stone.
  • Try wearing a rubber band on your wrist and snap the band whenever you are about to crack your knuckles.

Conclusion

Cracking your knuckles does not cause harm. It also should not cause pain, swelling, or change the shape of the joint. If any of these happen, it is an indication that something is wrong, and you need to be checked out by a doctor.

However, if you pull your finger very forcefully or move it in the wrong direction, you can cause injury to your finger, which can be very painful. You may also notice that your finger starts to look crooked or develops swelling. In such a case, you should see a doctor right away. You should also see your doctor if you find your joints are swollen or painful when you crack your knuckles. This is usually an indication that there is an underlying condition that needs to be checked out by a doctor.

Nevertheless, research shows that cracking your knuckles is not harmful and neither does it cause arthritis or change the shape of your joints. It can be distracting to the people around you. If cracking your knuckles has become a habit, it can be difficult to stop the practice, but it can be done. The first step is to be aware of when you are doing it and stop yourself. Finding other ways to relieve stress, like squeezing a stress ball, can also help you break the habit.

(last updated 5/30/20)

We all know someone who loves to habitually crack their knuckles. Most of us have at least tried it a few times. If you are good at it, the sound can be quite impressive…although some might just call it annoying! Perhaps your mother told you it would end up causing arthritis, but is that true? Is something breaking inside those knuckles?

The cracking or popping sound made when you deliberately stretch your fingers is usually caused by a process called cavitation. Cavitation occurs when a joint is stretched, causing negative pressure in the joint which pulls nitrogen gas out of the joint fluid. When these bubbles partially collapse, it causes a popping sound. Interestingly, this phenomenon was only finally confirmed in 2015 by researchers who used MRI to visualize the nitrogen bubbles forming in the finger joints. A less common source of popping noise occurs when some people move their fingers in a certain way that causes sudden snapping of tendons or ligaments over the underlying bones which may produce a similar sound.

There is no evidence that cracking your knuckles causes arthritis. One dedicated researcher named Donald Unger went so far as to routinely pop his own knuckles, but only in one hand for 60 years. He found no difference in his x-rays comparing one hand to the other after a lifetime of cracking knuckles in just the one hand. Another research study suggested that cracking knuckles may reduce grip strength, but a more recent study found no difference in strength. There have been a few case reports of finger dislocations and ligament injuries from overzealous knuckle cracking, but these injuries seem to be rare. The bottom line is that while knuckle cracking may be annoying, it is not likely to be harmful.

There are some “clicks and pops” in the hand that do signal concern for a more significant problem. Any time these hand noises are associated with pain or stiffness, you should seek medical attention. The most common painful source of popping is a condition called trigger finger in which the flexor tendon of the finger can become swollen and catch on the tendon sheath, sometimes causing the finger or thumb to lock up in a flexed position. Painful clicks and pops in the wrist may be due to ligament injuries or arthritis. Orthopaedic Hand and Wrist Surgeons specialize in diagnosing and treating these problems with both operative and nonoperative treatments available.

Eric Angermeier, MD
Orthopaedic Hand and Wrist Surgeon

202 Nexton Square Drive
Summerville, SC 29486

11 Jun Is OK to crack my toe knuckles?

Will Cracking Your Toe Knuckles Hurt You?

“Stop cracking your knuckles,” is something you might have heard growing up. Maybe you heard dire warnings about how this habit could lead to arthritis. You may have also heard some of the superstitions about knuckle cracking, for instance, that the number of pops you hear reflects the number of times you’ll fall in love.

Are any of these superstitions or beliefs true? Doubtful, but here’s what we know about this habit.

Some People Find Knuckle Cracking Enjoyable

There’s no question that some people enjoy the pulling, cracking, and popping of their finger and toe joints. Medical researchers estimate that 25 to 45 percent of us enjoy this activity. The majority of people who do it are male.

Some people consider cracking their toe knuckles an indispensable part of a foot massage. It’s a pleasant experience that seems to make sore feet feel better.

How to crack your knuckles

What’s Happening When You Crack Your Knuckles?

The crackle and pop of your knuckles actually come from bursting nitrogen bubbles that float in the synovial fluid of your joints. The synovial fluid lubricates the joints of your fingers and toes.

When you crack your knuckles, you might feel temporarily looser and more flexible. That’s because it takes about 20 minutes for the bubbles to come back after you’ve burst them. During that time, you might experience a sensation of lightness.

According to doctors, however, that’s an illusion. You really haven’t relieved any pressure, and the sense of looseness is all in your head. As orthopedic surgeon Robert Klapper of Cedars-Sinai Hospital notes, “Feeling good after cracking your knuckles is a psychological experience.”

It Probably Won’t Cause Arthritis

Here’s the good news. Many studies have compared the rates of arthritis between those who cracked their knuckles and those who didn’t. No studies have found evidence that the habit causes arthritis.

The most dramatic example is Donald Unger, a medical researcher who cracked the knuckles of his own hand for more than 50 years. During that time, he refrained from cracking the knuckles on the other. He did not develop arthritis in either hand.

It Might Lead to Other Problems

Now, here’s the bad news. It appears knuckle cracking can cause other joint problems. They include a weak grip and loose ligaments.

Weak grip: Years of cracking your knuckles can lead to soft tissue damage that builds up over the years. This can result in fingers or toes that suffer from chronic inflammation and a weak grip. Some people can’t grasp things with their toes or fingers after decades of knuckle cracking. A weak grip is dangerous for both fingers and toes.

Overstretched ligaments: Routinely pulling on your digits can cause your ligaments to stretch beyond their capacity. After years of stretching, the ligaments can become weak and loose. This becomes a condition known as ligamentous laxity or ligament laxity. It causes chronic pain and swelling.

How to crack your knuckles

Loose ligaments can lead to foot problems like:

  • Flattened arches.
  • Ankle sprains.
  • Severe ligament injury.

If in Doubt, Don’t Crack

Even though cracking your knuckles probably won’t cause arthritis, it might lead to other chronic, painful conditions. If you want to stay on the safe side, stop cracking them. Your podiatrist can give you tips on breaking the habit.

Learn More About Your Feet at Shuman Podiatry

At Shuman Podiatry & Sports Medicine, we deal with joint and knuckle programs every day. If you’re concerned about your toe knuckles or anything else that’s foot-related, make an appointment today.

Here’s a habit not many of us are proud to have. Popping, stretching and cracking feel good for our body, right? But what’s the science behind it? We’ve all heard that knuckles cracking can be dangerous for us, that we could even get arthritis and so on. How much of that is true? And why can’t we seem to be able to stop? Here’s why you’re actually addicted to cracking your knuckles.

How to crack your knuckles

We’re all familiar with that loud popping sound. It’s sometimes annoying when our colleagues do it. And yet we stretch our fingers too. Why is that?

Why Do We Crack Our Knuckles?

Studies show that cracking our knuckles actually releases a lot of pressure from the joints. This is enough to make us want it again and again. When we use our hands and muscles throughout the day, we tend to feel tired; that’s because our muscles and joints tighten up.

So knuckle cracking in the middle of the day feels like a nice big stretch or like yawning: it relaxes us. No wonder we get addicted to it. It’s the feeling of release that keeps us coming back to this habit.

However, not all people do it. So why is it that some of us are more addicted to this tiny loud habit while others aren’t? Well, it’s the people who use their muscles, hands and fingers more throughout the day as part of their job that tend to do it more often. Writers and surgeons are among those who do it a lot. And it’s understandable.

Can Cracking Our Knuckles Give Us Arthritis?

Although there aren’t many studies related to this, science tells us there are no detrimental effects on our health and our body. Of course, more research needs to be done. But unless you do it constantly, there isn’t any real danger.

So go ahead with the knuckle popping! Do you know anybody who cracks their knuckles? Share this!

How to crack your knuckles

What knuckle-cracking actually is though, practically speaking, is a nervous habit akin to nail-biting, hair-twirling, or foot-tapping: It’s something many default to when they’re uncomfortable or even mindlessly when they’re just bored. But is it innocuous, health-wise, like those other common rituals? Or might the overextended stretching of your digits be causing you body any damage? Because that popping effect certainly doesn’t sound natural.

First things first, here’s what actually happens when you cathartically enmesh your fingers, flip ’em inside out, and stretch: That popping sound? Bubbles bursting in the synovial fluid of the knuckles, which is the stuff that gives your joints their lubrication. And while the notion of knuckle-cracking leading to arthritis has been gratefully rejected by several studies, one sizable aesthetic question mark remains: Can the habit make your knuckles bigger?

The risks associated with knuckle-cracking

Good news: The whole knuckle-cracking-makes-your-knuckles-bigger myth seems to be just that—a myth. According to plastic surgeon Lara Devgan, MD, current research points to a causal relationship between cracking and enlarged knuckles being unlikely. There are risks to consider, though. A 1990 study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases found that that 84 percent of 300 regular knuckle-crackers experienced hand-swelling later in life, yet just 6 percent of non-crackers shared those results.

“For most average knuckle-crackers, [the habit] is probably not going to result in a meaningfully visible difference.” —Laura Devgan, MD

While the jury’s still out on exactly why this is (because, remember correlation is not causation), there’s a good chance inflammation plays a role. “Cracking the knuckles does add to mechanical wear and tear as well as inflammation of the joints,” says Dr. Devgan. “For most average knuckle-crackers, this is probably not going to result in a meaningfully visible difference, but overuse injuries are real, and this practice is not recommended.”

Why do we crack our knuckles, anyway?

But hey, old habits die hard—and this one may well have started way back in the day. As little kids, we find methods for self-soothing in moments of distress. Thumb-sucking is a great example of this. And while you’d be hard-pressed to find a preschooler who cracks their knuckles habitually like nobody’s business, it’s a habit we pick up over time that can be addictive. Maybe you did it once and liked the sound and feeling and just couldn’t stop.

Another possibility, according to Robert Graham, MD, is that people crack their knuckles to get some relief. “Sometimes, people perceive a sensation of tightness in their joints, so they try to relieve it by cracking their knuckles,” he explains.

Could there be any benefits to knuckle-cracking?

Just as there aren’t any huge risks surrounding regular knuckle-cracking, there aren’t any life-altering benefits to it, either. Although, one small study of 40 adults conducted by the Radiological Society of North America did find that some participants had an increased range of motion after cracking their knuckles compared to knuckles that hadn’t been cracked. Of course, this is just one study, and a lot more research would need to be done before any real conclusion around the benefits of knuckle-cracking could be reached.

Long story short, knuckle-cracking likely won’t be the reason you need to get all your rings resized. And while a lifelong habit of it could maybe lead to some hand-swelling later in life, a few cracks here and there probably won’t cause much long-term swelling.

Now that we’ve got the scoop on knuckle-cracking, what about back- and neck-cracking? Are those bad for you? Regardless, if you want to curb the habit, here’s the only trick you need.

If you’ve ever laced your fingers together, turned your palms away from you and bent your fingers back, you know what knuckle popping sounds like. Joints produce that CRACK when bubbles burst in the fluid surrounding the joint.

Joints are the meeting points of two separate bones, held together and in place by connective tissues and ligaments. All of the joints in our bodies are surrounded by synovial fluid, a thick, clear liquid. When you stretch or bend your finger to pop the knuckle, you’re causing the bones of the joint to pull apart. As they do, the connective tissue capsule that surrounds the joint is stretched. By stretching this capsule, you increase its volume. And as we know from chemistry class, with an increase in volume comes a decrease in pressure. So as the pressure of the synovial fluid drops, gases dissolved in the fluid become less soluble, forming bubbles through a process called cavitation. When the joint is stretched far enough, the pressure in the capsule drops so low that these bubbles burst, producing the pop that we associate with knuckle cracking.

It takes about 25 to 30 minutes for the gas to redissolve into the joint fluid. During this period of time, your knuckles won’t crack. Once the gas is redissolved, cavitation is once again possible, and you can start popping your knuckles again.

As for the harms associated with this habit, according to Anatomy and Physiology Instructors’ Cooperative, only one in-depth study regarding the possible detriments of knuckle popping has been published. This study, done by Raymond Brodeur and published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, examined 300 knuckle crackers for evidence of joint damage. The results revealed no apparent connection between joint cracking and arthritis; however, habitual knuckle poppers did show signs of other types of damage, including soft tissue damage to the joint capsule and a decrease in grip strength. This damage is most likely a result of the rapid, repeated stretching of the ligaments surrounding the joint. A professional baseball pitcher experiences similar, although obviously heightened, effects in the various joints of his pitching arm. But assuming you haven’t signed a multimillion dollar contract to constantly pop your knuckles, it hardly seems worth the possible risk to your joints.

­On the positive side, there’s evidence of increased mobility in joints right after popping. When joints are manipulated, the Golgi tendon organs (a set of nerve endings involved in humans’ motion sense) are stimulated and the muscles surrounding the joint are relaxed. This is part of the reason why people can feel “loose” and invigorated after leaving the chiropractor’s office, where cavitation is induced as part of the treatment. Backs, knees, elbows and all other movable joints are subject to the same kind manipulation as knuckles are.

…Including whether it really gives you arthritis.

How to crack your knuckles

If you’re a knuckle-cracker, you know how it goes: Sometimes you just don’t feel right until you pull, bend, or push your fingers until they pop and you’re flooded with satisfaction. On the other hand, if you’re not prone to cracking your knuckles, the urge might seem bizarre or even a little gross. Regardless of where you stand, you’ve no doubt been curious at one point or another about your (or your boyfriend’s or your sister’s) knuckling-cracking habit and how it’s even possible.

What Causes That Popping Sound?
For decades, scientists have been trying to figure out what goes on physically to elicit that signature popping noise. A recent study in PLOS ONE has cracked, so to speak, the code behind this weird bodily function, revealing that the sound happens as a result of an air bubble that forms when a joint is pulled apart. The process is technically called “tribonucleation,” or the quick separation of two surfaces followed by a cavity formation, say the researchers in the study.

How to crack your knuckles

A team of University of Alberta researchers had a study participant place his fingers into a tubular finger trap one at a time. A cable attached to the finger’s tip then slowly pulled until a knuckle cracked. The cracks were caught on MRI video so researchers could investigate what was going on, and each happened in the space of one frame (a.k.a. in 310 milliseconds).

While research from 1971 suggested the popping sound was due to the collapse of pre-existing bubbles in joints’ synovial fluid, this finding confirms a 1947 study that found it’s actually the creation of bubbles in the synovial fluid that causes the noise. Think of synovial fluid as the lubricant that exists between two joints. It’s necessary for proper joint and bone movement and comfort.

In the video below of the action in progress, the joint separates, a dark bubble appears in the intervening fluid, and then everything settles back into place. Although the joint looks like it’s back to normal, it has to undergo a refractory period before it can crack again. “The fluid takes time to refill and create the same dynamics it had before,” says Michael Suk, M.D., chairman of the department of orthopedic surgery at Geisinger Health System. “It’s like pouring oil through a very small hole in an hourglass—it takes time for it to fill up again.”

Why Do People Even Crack Their Knuckles in the First Place?
“There’s both a mental and physical component,” says Suk. “From a mental standpoint, it’s almost a nervous habit for some people, much like drumming their fingers or biting their nails. I think to some degree, there’s a feeling associated with doing it as a mental stress reliever.” Meanwhile, “from a physical standpoint, I think what this study shows is as you create space in the knuckle, you’re decompressing the joint,” says Suk. “In many cases, that can result in greater fluid movement in the joint itself, so your finger feels less constrained.”

Are Some People Just Not Capable of Doing It?
Although it seems like some people can crack their knuckles without an issue and others can’t no matter what, that’s likely not the case. “If we understand joints to be what they are, everyone has the potential to crack their knuckles,” says Suk. “The difference is that some people have a lower threshold of pressure for separating them, but others require much more force to create the separation.” Don’t take that as license to apply a ton of pressure just to hear the pop, though. “There have been some reports that people can tear or stretch tendons based on how they crack their knuckles,” says Suk. “Some people pull, while others bend their fingers. Depending on how forcefully you do so, you can injure your hand.”

Can Cracking Your Knuckles Really Cause Arthritis?
As for that rumor that you’re going to pay for your knuckle-cracking ways with arthritis, there’s not much truth to it, says Suk. “There’s no scientific merit to that,” he says. “A couple studies have looked at habitual knuckle-crackers and discovered there’s no difference in the quality or quantity of arthritis in their hands.” So even though it’s not the prettiest of habits, contrary to what your parents said when you were little, it likely won’t cause any long-term damage if you’re gentle.

Be aware, though: Although all joints share some common characteristics, they’re not all the same. “It’s probably hard to extrapolate from this study about the safety of cracking all joints across the board,” says Suk. You hear that, habitual back-crackers?

Anxiety, restlessness or just pure pleasure — there are lots of reasons why many find comfort in cracking their knuckles. But, does it cause arthritis? The short answer is no.

According to Houston Methodist Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Dr. John Fackler, “There are no known detrimental effects to cracking your knuckles.” At worst, knuckle-cracking may cause temporary swelling or a feeling of weakness in the hands — but arthritis, not quite.

What does happen when you crack your knuckles?

Dr. Fackler explains that the pressure applied to knuckles “causes vapor pockets” within the fluid inside the joints. This then “creates a vacuum that sucks the joint apart rapidly,” causing a popping sound in the knuckles.

So why do so many people find relief in cracking their knuckles? Cracking your knuckles “feels as if it relieves tension in the joints,” Dr. Fackler says. “When that phenomenon happens, it causes a distraction of the joint and separates the joint for a brief second. If traction is applied to the joint, it feels as if it loosens up and is more mobile.”

So I can crack my knuckles freely? There’s no risk of arthritis?

There are several types of arthritis, but knuckle-cracking is most commonly associated with osteoarthritis. In simple terms, “Osteoarthritis is a disease where the articular cartilage, located at the end of the bone on each joint, starts to break down and flake off,” causing pain, stiffness and swelling over time, Dr. Fackler explains.

“Osteoarthritis is age- and genetic-related. and people don’t get significant osteoarthritis until they’re in their 40s, 50s or older,” Dr. Fackler says. “The vast majority of arthritis patients have a genetic predisposition to the disease. However, if you have an injury when you’re young or tear a ligament or meniscus, that puts you at higher risk for arthritis when you get older.”

But wait, there’s more. Here’s what you shouldn’t crack.

Dr. Fackler advises avoiding popping the neck, as it can cause inflammation around the nerves and lead to more serious injuries long-term. “I encourage people not to habitually pop their necks, especially kids.”

So, as it turns out, you can crack your knuckles, limitlessly, without the consequences of arthritis. Just don’t be too caught off guard if your rings fit a little tighter after a knuckle-cracking session. Cracking knuckles can cause temporary swelling or a subtle increase in the size of your hands, but is ultimately harmless. “There are no long-term studies that show knuckle-cracking causes any damage,” Dr. Fackler says. Until then, “When it comes to your fingers, don’t even worry about it.”

If you feel that cracking knuckles is no big deal, you are highly mistaken. That’s because it can permanently deform your fingers.

How to crack your knuckles

Stop cracking your knuckles right away. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Cracking your knuckles might sound like music to your ears. You must be thinking, “oh what a relief” – but did you know this habit can wreak havoc on your bone health?

Yes, we know the elderly at home must have advised you against cracking your knuckles, because it is a bad omen. Well, we don’t really think it has anything to do with superstition, but a lot to do with your bone health.

Most of us feel relieved after making that sound, isn’t it? If you’re one of them, you need to read this piece to know why it’s bad for you.

Here are eight reasons why cracking knuckles is bad

1. Joint pain: If you think by doing this, you’re relieving your pain, the answer is a big NO. Instead, you’re inviting more pain in your fingers and wrist.
2. Swelling: If you crack your knuckles and twist your fingers or palm all the time, there’s a high chance of swelling.
3. Weak grip: Cracking knuckles creates cavities between the joints that can have an impact on your grip.
4. Reduced function of hand over time: This majorly happens in severe cases, says Dr Rakesh Nair, consultant knee replacement surgeon at Zen Super Speciality Hospital.
5. Thickening of the metacarpal cartilage
6. Pain and inflammation
7. Changes the shape of the joint
8. Crooked fingers

How to crack your knuckles

Try acupressure to relax your muscles. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Here why people crack their knuckles time and again

Well, we already told you there’s a feel-good factor attached to it, but here’s what Dr Nair has to say.

Cracking knuckles is something that we all do at some point in time. It helps you relieve stress in many ways, or that’s what most people feel. There are many people who are just habituated to this. But, it’s important to be mindful. Many crack their knuckles when they’re bored. It is difficult to explain the exact cause behind this.

“Someone may crack knuckles, when they’re anxious. Many believe that cracking knuckles reduces joint tension, increases mobility and they end up swearing by this habit. Even being nervous can make you crack your knuckles,” says Dr Nair.

He adds, “Functional hand impairment can occur. In serious cases, the fingers can be pulled out of the joint or the ligaments surrounding the joint can be injured.”

How to crack your knuckles

From strengthening bones, calcium is the magic mineral that we need in our diet. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

Dr Nair shares some tips to reduce stiffness in your palms

To reduce stiffness, you can opt for hot and cold therapy. Use an ice pack or place a hot bag on the affected area. Focus on the tendons and muscles, and do exercises or stretches that reduce pain and inflammation. These exercises will also reduce the stress on your joints.

“But, exercise or stretch only after consulting an expert and under the guidance of your fitness trainer. Opting for finger flexing and grip strengthening is also a good idea,” concludes Dr Nair.

So the next time you think of cracking those knuckles, remember what Dr Nair’s advice!

How to crack your knuckles Nikita Bhardwaj

Six-pack abs are all that Nikita needs, along with her daily dose of green tea. At Health Shots, she produces videos, podcasts, stories, and other kick-ass content.

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September 10, 2007 By Arthritis Center

Dimitrios Pappas, M.D.
Rheumatology Fellow
Johns Hopkins University

Question: Why do people crack knuckles?

Answer: Cracked knuckles feel looser and enjoy more mobility for a while after cracking. It is also possible that as kids people realize that cracking knuckles produces a funny noise and may repeat cracking just to produce the sound. This may make some people habitual “knuckle crackers”.

Question: What causes the sound?

Answer: Joints (knuckles) are covered by a capsule (the joint capsule or synovial capsule). Within the space of this capsule the synovial fluid is contained which acts as a lubricant and also contains nutrients for the adjacent bone surfaces. A variety of gases are continuously dissolved in this fluid. When one cracks a knuckle, the stretching of the capsule lowers the pressure inside the joint and creates a vacuum which is filled by the gas previously dissolved in the synovial fluid. This creates a “bubble” which then bursts producing the characteristic “popping” or “cracking” sound. It takes a while until these gases are re-dissolved in the synovial fluid which explains why knuckles cannot be “re-cracked” immediately.

Question: Are there any side effects to cracking knuckles?

There is no evidence that cracking knuckles causes any damage such as arthritis in the joints. However, a couple of reports in the medical literature are available associating knuckle cracking with injury of the ligaments surrounding the joint or dislocation of the tendons ( attachments of muscles to bones) which improved with conservative treatment. A study found that after many years of cracking habitual knuckle crackers may have reduced grip strength compared with people not cracking their knuckles.

Question: Is there a difference between what happens in children / adults?

Answer: No. However habitual cracking has been associated in one 14 yo female with skin changes over the knuckles (called “knuckle pads”).

Question: What causes arthritis?

Answer: There are different kinds of arthritis with the major categories being two: The inflammatory arthritides such as the rheumatoid arthritis and the degenerative arthritis best known as osteoarthritis or “wear and tear arthritis”. The causes for either are not well known and research focuses on elucidating the mechanisms leading to these diseases. In general a genetic predisposition is highly likely for both. For the inflammatory arthritis an unknown exposure to environmental stimuli is considered possible. For the “wear and tear arthritis” instead, aging and excessive mechanical stress may play a role in accelerating the damage in the joints as it happens in the knees of genetically predisposed older obese people.

Question: Can cracking knuckles / joints lead to arthritis?

Answer: There is no evidence of such an association. In limited studies performed there was no change in occurrence of arthritis between “habitual knuckle crackers” and “non crackers”

Question: If you have arthritis, can cracking knuckles / joints make it worse?

Answer: No. However theoretically “knuckle – cracking” in patients with weak or damaged joints due to arthritis could potentially lead more easily to ligament injury or acute trauma to the joints.

How to crack your knuckles

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Joints are not known for always being quiet. They can actually make a wide array of noises, such as grinding, popping, and cracking.

One of the joints that is most associated with cracking (along with others such as the neck and knees) is the knuckle. Sometimes knuckles feel tight, so people try to get a release by cracking them. Many people worry, though, that it could cause arthritis.

Joint-cracking stats and methods

People often crack their knuckles because it temporarily alleviates wrist and hand pain, but of course no one wants to be fueling a chronic degenerative condition. According to various scientific findings, 25-54% of American adults say that they crack their knuckles regularly, with men doing so in especially high volume.

There are three basic ways in which people crack their knuckles: “bending them backward or forward, turning them sideways, or pulling on the bones around the joint,” according to Medical News Today. “While any joint can be popped, it is the knuckles of the fingers that are most commonly popped.”

Cracking your knuckles does not lead to arthritis

No matter how many times you may have heard that the habit is dangerous, the truth is that cracking your knuckles does not raise your risk of arthritis, but it could actually contribute to lifelong hand pain. Consider the following three studies:

1. Researchers found that people who cracked their knuckles weren’t likelier to develop arthritis than those who abstained. Nonetheless, they were more susceptible to two musculoskeletal issues: grip weakness and inflammation.

2. The study authors confirmed that risk of arthritis did not arise as a result of knuckle cracking but that the activity did make it likelier that the person would experience injuries, such as ligament damage or tendon dislocation.

3. In this unusual case study, Dr. Donald Unger used his left hand for the experiment and right hand as the control. The doctor presented his findings in a letter to Arthritis and Rheumatism after 50 years of cracking his knuckles – but only the left ones. Noting that he had cracked the knuckles on the experimental hand more than 36,000 times, Dr. Unger wrote that “

Getting help for hand pain

Are you suffering from the hand pain of osteoarthritis? If you think it’s because you cracked your knuckles for many years, that’s probably not the case. What matters, though, is your quality of life moving forward.

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

How to crack your knucklesMany of us depend on the good health and functioning of our hands for daily activities, even for our livelihood. A broken knuckle can have a detrimental effect on our day-to-day lives, but there are ways to deal with the pain and symptoms at home. We will discuss the causes, symptoms, and how to treat a fractured knuckle.

Why Is My Knuckle Broken?

Your knuckles are one of the strongest parts of the human body, but accidents do happen. A blunt force to the hand by a hard fall, an auto accident, or by hitting an object or a person, can cause the knuckle to fracture or break. Once referred to as a boxer’s fracture, a broken knuckle is more commonly known as a brawler’s fracture. Of your hand’s knuckles, the most susceptible to a fracture is the one located nearest to the pinky finger.

Broken Knuckle Symptoms

Have you recently had trauma to your hand, or even been in a fist fight and are now wondering if you have a sprained knuckle or a broken knuckle? Let’s examine the signs of a fractured knuckle.

1. Popping Sensation

Did you feel or hear a pop from your hand upon impact? This is one of the first common signs something has gone terribly wrong when a person hits their knuckle with a hard surface. You may experience this with a very hard hit as the bone of the knuckle breaks or explodes into pieces.

2. Pain

Usually, whether you have a popping sensation or not, the impact will cause immediate pain. The worse the injury, the more severe the pain will be. You may feel a jolt of pain, or it may be a dull, throbbing ache. The fractured or broken knuckle may still be able to flex without an increase of pain.

3. Swelling

After a few minutes of impact, you probably will see your hand begin to swell. The region of the injury will become stiff and hard to move. As an immediate symptom of a fractured knuckle, the swelling will overtake your entire hand and affect the mobility of your other fingers.

4. Numbness

Numbness may occur along with the swelling, as you may experience a sensation of tingling and numbness of the injured area. The swelling will cause compression on the nerves, and as it worsens, numbness is sensed.

5. Bruising

Depending on the severity of the impact, a bruised knuckle will appear very rapidly. A major break of the bone causes blood loss to be much faster than any other injury, and will present bruising sooner than expected.

6. Sunken Knuckle

The tell-tale sign of a broken knuckle is the presence of a sunken knuckle. If you wonder if it is truly broken due to the small amount of swelling or pain you may be experiencing, check if the knuckle is depressed into the hand.

The above symptoms are the signs of a broken knuckle, but there are also accompanying signs and symptoms to watch for in most cases of a fracture, or break of the knuckle bone.

7. Stiffness

With swelling you can have stiffness in the area of the injury as well as in the nearby finger or fingers. This stiffness may last for a long time after the knuckle is healed, and in some cases, the mobility of the finger or hand may not be restored completely.

8. Infection

The affected bone may become infected by an infection in the tissue or from the bloodstream. Osteomyelitis can lead to surgery, and in rare incidences, amputation of the infected digit.

9. Delayed union

A proper healing of the knuckle bone may take a longer time, and is referred to a delayed union.

10. Mal union

If you follow all the recommended treatments of a broken knuckle, there is still a chance it may heal in a different state. This may result in a twisted or a smaller form of the bone.

11. Non-union

Despite your best attempts, even with surgery, your bone may not heal back to its original state.

Fractured Knuckle Treatment

Depending on the severity, home remedies can be done for broken knuckle treatment without a doctor. We have placed the treatments in a time progression order for more effective healing.

1. Clean Wounds

With many knuckle impacts, there are cuts or scratches that may occur on your hand. These must be dealt with first to prevent infection. Wash open wounds with a clean cloth or towel, warm water, and a gentle pure soap or antiseptic. It is recommended to cover any open surface with a clean gauze dressing or bandage.

2. Ice It

Use an ice pack on the affected area as soon as possible to help with the onset of swelling. The pressure and touch of an ice pack can increase the amount of pain, but it will help with inflammation, which can cause greater pain.

3. Elevate Hand

The third task is to raise the hand above the level of your heart, whether you are standing or sitting. By elevating the injury, you are allowing the excess of blood to flow away from the area, as well as helping to prevent excessive swelling.

4. Splint Fingers

To promote proper healing of the knuckle, secure the affected finger to the closest finger with a splint. This will help to keep the knuckle in place and straight during the healing process. Keep it strapped for at least three weeks.

A broken or fractured knuckle can happen to anyone at anytime. The best course of action is prevention. However, it can easily happen with accidents, during a fall, or by participating in a physical activity with your hands, such as a fight or boxing workout routine.

The severity of the break results in varying degrees of the signs and symptoms. A sunken knuckle is a proven sign the bone is broken. Take the necessary steps to prevent infection and further damage to the knuckle with appropriate treatment, which can be done at home with most cases.

Here we are debunking some common myths about knuckle cracking and the truth behind it.

How to crack your knuckles

Honestly most of us have been scolded by our mom, dad, teachers and elders because of cracking the knuckles. I mean the urge to do so can not be controlled easily but our parents tried every way possible to make us stop doing that by giving some weird reasons like doing so can cause arthritis, can lead to joint pain and what not. Well if you are someone who has believed all this your whole life then it’s time to come out of your nutshell and face the reality. Here we are debunking some common myths about knuckle cracking and the truth behind it with Dr. Manav Vora. Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Doctor.

What is knuckle cracking?

How to crack your knuckles

Image Credits- The Washington Post

Something that most of us have done all our childhood and have been scolded for, knuckle cracking is pressing the finger joints in such a way that they produce a cracking or pop sound. This sound is produced when you pull or bend the finger joints which creates some space within the joint capsule by sucking the synovial joint.

Why do people do it?

Although many people follow his practice subconsciously, there are various reasons due to which people crack their knuckles. Here are some of the most common reasons due to which people crack their knuckles-

  • Nervousness- Similar to curling hair and wringing hands, cracking knuckles is also a sign of nervousness that occupies your hands.

How to crack your knuckles

Image Credits- Idea Scale

  • Stress- Some people use knuckle cracking as a diversion when they are stressed as a diversion to release the stress without causing any kind of harm.
  • Sound- Not a very solid reason to practice something as knuckle practice but some people actually perform this activity just because they like the sound of it.
  • Habit- It all starts with nervousness and stress and eventually turns into a habit due to which people find themselves cracking their knuckles unconsciously throughout the day for five times or more.
  • For the feeling- Some people follow this practice for the kind of sensation it gives to the body and they think that it helps them to relieve the tension in their joints and increases its mobility.

5 Myths About Knuckle Cracking

Here we are debunking five most common myths about knuckle cracking and will talk about the real facts behind them.