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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. Many 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 are 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 25-30 minutes for the gas to redissolve into the joint fluid. During this period of time, your knuckles will not 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 is 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 of manipulation as knuckles are.

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โˆ™ 2010-05-04 12:37:08
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Q: Is cracking your knuckles harmful
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Related questions

Is cracking your toe knuckles harmful?

I know cracking knuckles leads to fat knuckles when older. So cracking toe knuckles can be harmful. Their only good when you crack them while stretching, not for fun

What happens when you crack your knuckles and it's really bad?

There is no indication that cracking your knuckles is harmful.

What do crackling knuckles sound like?

Cracking knuckles sound like cracking knuckles

After cracking knuckles what does it do to your hands?

Cracking your knuckles is just releasing the nitrogen in between your joints. Cracking your knuckles can cause you to crack them more often. Your knuckles may become larger from cracking them.

What if you cracked your knuckles?

Cracking your knuckles does not make your knuckles bigger as a common myth says. It simply relieves the air pockets that can accumulate in the knuckles and "pops" the air bubble. The frequent cracking could possibly lead to arthritis in later age, so it is best to not crack your knuckles. infact im a well trained nurse and just so you know cracking you knuckles is definitely not harmful!!!!!!! xx

How many Americans crack their knuckles?

2 out of every 3 Americans crack their knuckles. There are some theories that say cracking the knuckles may be harmful and can cause arthritis.

Does cracking your knuckles give you fat fingers?

Cracking your knuckles can cause your knuckles to swell depending on how often you crack them.

Is cracking your knuckles just cracking blood?


Does cracking your knuckles push air out of the joint?

Cracking your knuckles releases the nitrogen from in between your joints.

Can cracking your knuckles cause your fingers to go crooked?

No. Cracking the knuckles does not damage tot he joint.

Does cracking your knuckles cause them to be short and fat?

No. It Makes your knuckles swell up and never goes away. :\ So stop cracking your knuckles!!

What is treament for cracking your knuckle?

Cracking your knuckles does not lead to arthritis, as some people may think. There is no treatment available for cracking your knuckles as it is not a medical condition.

Is cracking your knuckles just releasing gas?

When you crack your knuckles, your bones are rubbing together. That's what makes the cracking sound. It used to be beleived that cracking your knuckles caused arthridis, but that been prooved untrue.

Does cracking your back give you arthritis?

No neither does cracking your knuckles

Is cracking your knuckles in your ankle harmful?

No. I don't believe that it is. I think it releases stress on you joints. So your tendons can move more freely. If it becomes a habit though then it may indicate a behavioral problem or Arthritis. Be kind to yourself by carrying around Aspercreme or mint scented (also comes in vanishing sent) Ben Gay.

Why cant you stop cracking or knuckles?

Its a habit i do it and it is harmful try doing stuff to stop like i wear a rubber band every time i crack my knuckles i simply snap it on my wrist

If your knuckles are big due to cracking your knuckles can you reduce their size?

No, and I read somewhere that cracking your knuckles doesn't actually increase their size. Couldn't tell you where I read it though

Do your wrists get swollen from cracking your fingers and knuckles?

There is no data linking swollen wrists with knuckle cracking. In fact, there is no data linking knuckle cracking with swollen knuckles or arthritis.

What does cracking your knuckles do to the body?

Well Cacking our knuckles Some people thing it causes arthritus, but actually the sound is caused by a various form of gasses that are being let off by the cracking sound, cracking your knuckles can also make your knuckles swell or puff, So it doesn't do anything to your BODY but it does do something to your knuckles!

Can cracking your knuckles do permanent damage?


Do cracking your knuckles make them bigger?


Is cracking your knuckles a habit?

Yea it is i have been cracking my knuckles a long time and it has become a habit BUT i choose to it is kind of a stress reliever

Will cracking your fingers will mess up your knuckles?

No. There is no evidence that cracking your knuckles or fingers will lead to any adverse consequence (not even arthritis).

What makes the cracking noise when you crack you knuckles?

Gases that are trapped in between your knuckles

When you crack your knuckles do your hands swell?

No. Cracking your knuckles does not cause your hands to swell.