Does anything beat that feeling of being stiff in your fingers and giving them a satisfying crack? Or do you cringe like nails have been scraped down a blackboard when someone cracks their joints? Knuckle cracking is a polarising thing but one thing people always ask us is:
“If I crack my knuckles am I damaging my bones or giving myself arthritis?”
The short answer is no! There have been many studies conducted to either prove or disprove if cracking your knuckles actually causes or if there is a correlation with finger osteoarthritis.
Knuckle cracking habits or long term knuckle cracking also doesn’t have an impact on osteoarthritis outcome.
People are just as likely to have arthritis in their hands if they have never cracked their knuckles compared to someone who cracks their knuckles 100 times a day.
The sound that you can hear when cracking your knuckles isn’t bones crunching together, it’s actually a gas bubble forming in the joint because you quickly pulled the joint in a direction further than its normal range. For example, it’s like when you open a bottle of soft drink and all the carbonated bubbles are dissolved in the liquid, when you open the bottle it increases the amount of space the liquid can be in so the gas bubbles start to form.
When you “crack” or manipulate a joint there are benefits like increasing the ranges of the joint, relaxing surrounding muscles and reducing pain in the area. This is why we use this technique when we are treating people with pain or stiffness in most areas of the body. We don’t recommend starting to crack your joints after you start getting arthritis though as the technique is not comfortable or very effective in joints with arthritis.
So when someone gives you a look of horror when you crack your knuckles, you can let them know “It’s fine, I’m not damaging my joints. Just block your ears if you don’t like the sound!”