Is Cracking Knuckles Bad For You?

Hey! Don’t crack your knuckles.

Hey, cut it out, would you? Cracking knuckles make your joints weaker.

Stop it! Cracking knuckles cause arthritis.

Image result for boy cracking knuckles


The aforementioned lines are quite familiar to us. We are told by our parents, friends and relatives not to crack knuckles because they think that doing so might cause arthritis or make the joints weaker. Well, what if I tell you that they are absolutely wrong and cracking knuckles does nothing. This article is for those who are obsessed with knuckle cracking.

You must have heard a crackling sound whenever you stretch your fingers. This audible sound is heard whenever you crack your joints. These joints are called synovial joints and are surrounded by a fluid-filled capsule. Synovial fluid helps lubricate joints and is made up of dissolved gases, mostly nitrogen.

knuckle crackingSource

The researchers reckon that when you crack a joint, you’re pulling apart two surfaces of the joint, hence decreasing the pressure within the joint. That pressure allows the gas that’s dissolved in the synovial fluid to be liberated. The “pop” you hear is the result of a gas bubble forming. You might have wondered that why you can’t crack the same knuckle over and over again. The gases take about 20 minutes to fully dissolve back into the fluid.

Although the research was limited to short-term results, what they can confirm is that no sudden pain, swelling, or damage was detected in the cracked knuckles, and they found no noticeable difference between the joints of the subjects who were obsessed with the habit and those who never cracked a knuckle in their lives. After 60 years of doing the experiment, he found no difference between the two hands.

Scientists have always been intrigued and fascinated as to what really causes the incredibly loud sound in our knuckles when we crack them.

Image result for boy cracking knuckles


The studies go way back: in 1947, scientists published a paper claiming that the sound happens when a bubble first forms in the synovial fluid of the joint. After 30 years, another group of researchers stated the previous finding erroneous and fallacious that it made more sense that the sound would occur from the bubble bursting.

So, which is it? Do bubbles pop, or form during cracking?

“That’s a surprisingly tough question to answer,” say researchers. “I will tell you that we consistently saw the bright ‘flash’ in the joint only after we heard the audible crack. Never the other way around. Perchance that supports the bubble formation theory and not the bubble popping theory”, they added.

Good news for all of you obsessed with popping your joints: cracking your knuckles doesn’t cause arthritis and decrease in hand mobility.

Bad news: it still may annoy the heck out of your loved ones.

Leave a Reply