Is Cracking Knuckles Bad For You?

Is Cracking Knuckles Bad For You?

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You can’t escape them. They might work in the cubicle next to you. Maybe they sit by you on the train home from work. They could be a relative, a friend, or a spouse. You might even be one of them. Knuckle crackers are everywhere. And while many people take part in cracking knuckles, as a whole, it’s a habit that is pretty misunderstood. Through the years different rumors have started about the action of cracking knuckles (and joints in general), so we’re here to help set the record straight.

What makes the cracking noise?

Theory #1: Your joints are surrounded by synovial fluid to allow them to glide smoothly instead of rubbing bone on bone. When you pull, twist or crack a joint, you’re expanding the volume of space between your bones, and the sudden inflow of fluid into that space is the popping you feel and hear when you crack a knuckle.

Theory #2:  When the ligaments around a joint move, it can result in a popping or cracking sound.

Is it bad for you?

Back in 1990, a study was held that concluded people who crack their knuckles are more prone to having lower grip strength and more hand swelling than those who don’t. It is true that the more frequently you pop your joints, the components (ligaments) become looser, so it makes it easier for your joints to crack the more you do it. However, it is extremely common to crack your joints. If it caused arthritis or any additional issues, there would be a lot more complaints and conditions identified.

However, it is not good if any pain occurs with the cracking of your joint, especially if it’s in your neck or back. Painful popping is not normal and should be examined by a doctor or medical professional. Every person’s anatomy and build are different, so what may be harmless for one person, may not be the case for you.


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OSI Physical Therapy

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