Can you get arthritis from cracking your knuckles?

Posted: April 30, 2012 in Science
Tags: , ,

You know how you’re at your mom’s house visiting, or whatever, and you decide to crack your knuckles and she yells at you that you’re going to give yourself arthritis if you keep cracking them?

Is she right? Can you get arthritis from cracking your knuckles?

I wish I could just come out and say “no”, but it’s probably safer to say that there is no proof that links knuckle cracking to arthritis.

Actually, you’re popping your knuckle, not cracking it. The sound you are hearing is the knuckle joint popping in and/or out of its socket.

You see, there is this fluid in the joint called “the synovial fluid” and it helps the ligaments and other tissues that keep the knuckle in place.  The synovial fluid is mostly made up with carbon dioxide and a little bit of nitrogen and looks like thick syrup. When you bend your fingers back (or however your style), you’re pulling the bones apart from the joint causing pressure to reduce in the synovial fluid  which form bubbles and eventually burst – that’s the sound you’re hearing. Experts call this cavitation.

However, the question still arises if you are harming yourself…so, are you?
Well, there’s a doctor at the Johns Hopkins University that says that “any risk associated with knuckle cracking is very minor”. One study did show that people who cracked their knuckles on a daily basis did experience less grip strength over time.

There is an article in Scientific Magazine that said a man over a 50 year period (since his childhood) cracked the knuckles on one hand more often than the other. He claims that he has no arthritis in either hand and that his grip has not been affected.

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