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Does cracking your knuckles lead to arthritis?

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Arthritis and Cracking Knuckles The reason people associate knuckle-cracking with arthritis because it makes a cracking noise and, if something cracks, it must be being damaged. However, the truth is that nothing is being cracked.

A joint is any place where the ends of two bones meet. Where the bones come together they have a covering of "articular cartilage." This is surrounded by the "joint capsule," inside of which there is synovial fluid. Synovial fluid is the lubricant for the joint and also serves as a source of nutrients for the cells that look after the cartilage.

Synovial fluid has dissolved oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide within it. When the right pressure is applied to a joint, the area inside the joint capsule expands. However, 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 gases can escape out of the fluid. The cracking sound comes from the gases rapidly being released from the fluid.

There have been a few studies to see whether or not cracking knuckles caused arthritis. None have found that there was an increase of arthritis among knuckle-crackers; nevertheless, a relationship was discovered between knuckle-cracking, hand swelling and lower grip strength, damage to ligaments surrounding the joints and dislocation of tendons.

The conclusion of the studies 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. There may also be a connection with soft tissue injuries.

For those that would like a more in depth view of tests done on a sample of 300 knuckle-crackers, go to the Related Link below.

More input from Wiki s contributors:
  • Cracking your knuckles wears away the cartilage between the joints over a long period of time. This is one of the causes of arthritis. Other causes of arthritis are completely unrelated, like for example, you can inherit it from your parents, or get it because of a disease like Lupus. So, I guess if you might get it anyway, and you might not know if it was your's or your parents fault, go ahead and crack away.
  • Don't listen to those people that tell you cracking your knuckles will cause you to have arthritis. At this point it's just a speculation, not wild, but certainly not founded on anything but misconceptions. All you're doing is playing with the physiology and chemistry of your body a bit. There are good and bad sides to this. Here's a rather complete site if you want to read more (which keeps me from typing it all out): howstuffworks.
  • No, of course it doesn't. A study focused on 300 habitual knuckle crackers found no evidence linking knuckle cracking and arthritis. Chronic crackers did suffer other harm, including soft tissue damage and loss of grip strength. This damage is usually minor, however, and cracking your knuckles actually has some benefits -- you'll feel looser and enjoy more mobility in your joints immediately after popping.
  • No, it only elongates the joints over time and gives you the appearance of longer fingers.
  • No. I'm 20 and I have been cracking my knuckles (toes, back, neck...) since third grade. My knuckles, if I pull the skin tight are a bit larger than normal, but it's not noticeable. My fingers don't look long to me.
  • This is an old wife's tale that has been debunked many times. The crackling sound when you 'crack' your knuckles is just the release of gases (nitrogen if I recall) back into your bloodstream. No one has ever shown that this is in any way harmful but it can be annoying if done habitually. That's probably why the arthritis story originated, an annoyed parent wanted to scare his kids into stopping the practice.
  • I am a paramedic student and EMT, and have also posed this question to my anatomy professor in the past and to nurse and paramedic instructor back in paramedic school. All cracking your knuckles does is release gas build up between the joints and has nothing to do with arthritis. P.S.: The cracking of knuckles is nothing compaired to the every day abuse the joints go through in every day normal use.
  • It takes 20+ minutes for the gases and fluids to get back into your knuckles to get poped again. and it has been proven that the worst thing that can happen is a slightly stretched ligament which is not harmful at all. it is perfectly fine. Don't do your neck though: let the chiropractors do that.
  • Not everybody's joints crack. Some people have a larger separation between the bones and some people can't relax enough to allow the bones to separate. If you can crack and your mom tells you, you're going to get arthritis, she's just yanking your chain. There is no scientific evidence that cracking your knuckles leads to arthritis. However, it can't be good to repeatedly push a joint beyond its normal physical range. Besides that, it's annoying. Cracking your knuckles can cause a decrease in your grip but unless you're signing any multi-million dollar contracts as a pitcher, it's not worth giving up. But it's still annoying.
  • Of course it doesn't. I've been doing it for years and if anything, it increases felxibility and keeps your fingers supple. I would know, I play the guitar and the piano and it always helps.
  • No is your answer, i am a sports and fitness major and i have askeds many of my Prof. and they all say the same thing there is no evidence that cracking your knuckles inflames the joints and leads to arthritis. the cracking causes the bones to pull apart, forming a gas bubble in the joint, and that's what makes the sound.
  • There has never been a meaningful study done that has shown knuckle cracking to be harmful to the finger joints. 25% of Americans crack habitually.
  • Cracking your knuckles will likely not cause arthritis. There is no evidence that it will. However, as a long time knuckle cracker I can tell you that there are dangers to knuckle cracking. You can sprain your joints if you are not careful.
  • I have always cracked my fingers, toes and arm. I also have arthritis and know that it is inherited from my mother (who does not crack). Has anyone thought about maybe it could be the other way around, maybe having arthritis even in the early stages makes some people need to crack their joints. Maybe it is a condition where some people have excess nitrogen buildup in their joints, making them feel uncomfortable and causing pain and related some how to having arthritis.
  • It has been found that there is no relationship between arthritis and knuckle-cracking. There are two main types of arthritis osteo which is non inflammatory form of arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis which is an autoimmune disease effecting the joints.
  • No there is absolutely no evidence that knuckle-cracking causes any sort of arthritis.
  • Arthritis is a problem that causes a wearing away of normal joint surfaces. Joints are the points where two bones meet each other. These junctions have special linings on the bones to allow motion at the joints. When this special lining (cartilage) is worn away, arthritis is the condition that results.
  • Finger and thumb arthritis is common, because there are 27 bones in each hand! This means that there are many joints in the fingers that can develop arthritis. Furthermore, we are very dependent on our fingers for many normal activities. Any problem that affects these joints can limit many normal activities.
Thanks for the feedback!

Does cracking your joints especially the knuckles cause arthritis?

No it doesn't. This is a common misconception. Your joints contain fluid which assist in cushioning and preventing the two or more bones from grinding against each other. Crac

Does cracking you knuckles lead to artiritus?

No, knuckle cracking does not lead to arthritis. It is an old tale told over and over again. The human condition is to link every action with a negative or positive effect. Be

Why does cracking your knuckles give you arthritis?

It does not. Research has been done and found that knuckle cracking does NOT cause arthritis. A retrospective case-control study examined the hand radiographs of 215 people