Does Popping My Knuckles Cause Arthritis?
We've all had a grandparent or mother tell us stop cracking you knuckles! That will cause arthritis!
The Truth is, knuckle cracking or bone cracking is harmless and does not increase your risk of any chronic issues.
So What is the sound we hear?
Joints are the points of articulation between two bones. The joints of your fingers have small gaps (joint space) between the bones like all joints in the body. These joint spaces are filled with a fluid called synovial fluid. The synovial fluid lubricates joints and prevents bones from rubbing on each other.
When you pop or crack a joint, you increases the amount of space within the joint. This suddenly expanded space joint space creates negative pressure, and synovial fluid rushes into the area to fill the negative pressure void. The popping or cracking sound you hear is actually the sound of that synovial fluid rushing into the space between your bones.
Popping Knuckles is NOT Associated with Arthritis Risk
Many different clinical studies have examined patients with osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease), the most common form to determine how many of them are "knuckle poppers." Scientists have found no evidence to suggest that people who pop their knuckles have higher rates of arthritis or other bone conditions than those who listened to grandma and didn't pop their knuckles.
Of course, popping a joint does cause the the material holding the joint and surrounding connective tissue to stretch. Over time, repeated joint cracking can loosen the tissue. This makes it easier to crack the joints and that's why knuckle crackers have joints that are particularly susceptible to popping. However, this appears to be a harmless side effect of knuckle cracking. Loosened connected tissue as a result of frequent knuckle cracking has not been associated with any side effects.
When We Should Be Concerned about Cracking Joints
Cracking your knuckles should not be a source of pain or discomfort. Some patients with bursitis, arthritis or tendinitis find that their joints crack more often. If you do notice that your joints crack more often and cause you pain, call the office today to schedule an appointment.