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Cracking Your Knuckles

Cracking Your Knuckles

While some find the noise of cracking knuckles annoying, to others the effect may be therapeutic. However, apart from this effect, there are several other effects of cracking your knuckles. Find them here.
WellnessKeen Staff
The cracking and popping of knuckles can actually be very irritating to people who don't indulge in this habit. No one knows why people do this in the first place. Some believe it relieves stress while others are just addicted to this habit. What you probably haven't noted is that when you make the sound, several people shudder at it. Also, when you hear someone else cracking their knuckles and every other body part at one go, you are likely to have the same feelings about it. Ironic, but true. In any case, apart from busting stress, there are several effects of this habit, which have been presented here. For those of you who are concerned about it, you may take a look at the ways in which you can stop it too.

The Mechanism

So, what causes the 'crack' sound when you pull or bend your finger in the most unimaginable position? The explanation is simple. There is a fluid between every joint in your body, and similarly in your knuckles, known as the synovial fluid. This fluid is contained in a bag, which you stretch when you are trying to crack your knuckles. Once the bag pops, a small amount of carbon dioxide is released and the bag snaps. This whole mechanism causes that loud 'crack'. For this bag to refill, the time ranges anywhere between ten to fifteen minutes, which is why you may not be able to repeat this act immediately.

The Effect

Many of you may have been told that knuckle cracking can cause arthritis. However, several studies have shown that there is no direct relation between both, so this is a myth. Though arthritis may be out of the question, doing so can cause several other undesirable effects, which is probably why you should stop doing it as of this moment. Yes, it may be relaxing and helps you reduce the stiffness of your joints after long hours of typing, writing, painting, or performing any other task. While the relaxing effect may be temporary, over a longer period cracking your knuckles will lead to several problems.
  • When you crack them, you may be prone to stretching and bending your fingers in all sorts directions to hear that 'crack'. However, doing it excessively can cause your ligaments to stretch, leading to a damage in your fingers, and also cause soft tissue injuries.
  • It often can also cause you to have swollen fingers. In such a case you ought to have your fingers checked because swelling is not a direct reaction of knuckle cracking.
  • You should be also worried when cracking causes pain, because in no way should pain be related to the act.
  • Lastly, this habit can also reduce the strength of your hand and grip.
Several people consider even these effects to be myths. However, these effects have been established on the basis of some research and are not completely baseless.

How to Stop

If this information has got you concerned or worried, there are ways in which you can stop this habit. It is more of an addiction than a 'stress reliever'. Experts say the effect of this habit is rooted in the mind, and by conditioning the mind you can actually stop it.
  • You first have to identify when you crack your knuckles. Is it when you're bored? Or when you are anxious or stressed? In such a case, distract yourself by doing something else. You will have to make a conscious effort to do so.
  • Stretch your hands and fingers at regular intervals if you feel they are becoming stiff. Just close your hands into fists, and stretch them open as much as you can. Apply some massage oil or lotion on your hands to reduce the stiffness.
  • Wear socks on your hands to stop yourself from cracking your knuckles.
  • You probably will have to engage in other activities to stop this one. Tapping your fingers or a pencil in your hands, may help you stop this habit. This may help if you are addicted to the sound that is produced when you engage in this activity.
  • Sometimes, rewarding yourself to stop this habit will help you get over it.
  • You may have a calcium deficiency due to which you are engaging in this habit. Taking calcium supplements will help you correct the joint problems you may be having.
Finally, if you know someone who has this habit, you can probably cross check the effects mentioned here to ensure if they are true. If you don't want to stop this habit and want to relish the pleasure it gives you, then only time will be able to tell whether the effects of this habit are actually for real.

Disclaimer: This WellnessKeen article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.