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Is Knuckle Cracking Good or Bad?

Most people are in the habit of cracking their knuckles. This article discusses whether or not cracking your knuckles will have an adverse effect on your fingers.
WellnessKeen Staff
We all do it. We don't know why, but the moment when we are able to steal two precious seconds of thoughtlessness from our busy lives, crack go our knuckles. No one really knows why they do it. No one knows how or when they got into the habit. Few know what creates this sound. However, there is something about that noise that fascinates our subconscious mind and asks us to have a 'crack' at it over and over again. And unquestioningly and repeatedly, we get the habit of cracking our knuckles.

Myths and Facts

There is no real evidence that cracking knuckles is bad for you. No study connects this act to arthritis. You are merely stretching your bones, so what's wrong with that? While you crack your knuckles habitually, there are other joints in the body which 'crack' similarly. Think of when you get up and stretch your back after sitting for a long time. Doesn't the same cracking sound come from your back? Or when you twiddle your toes after a while, it's the same cracking sound. Ever seen those intimidating fighters in movies? They often twist their neck from side to side leading to a series of cracking sounds. While that may just be a sound effect, my point is clear enough. You can crack most joints in the body, but rest assured, you're not going to get arthritis.

So now that we're through with dispelling the myths, let's get down to the facts. The joints in the body are armed with a lubricant to keep things running smoothly. The lubricating fluid is known as the synovial fluid. This synovial fluid is contained in a capsule between two bone joints. When you crack your knuckles, what you really do is that you stretch the bones apart. This increases the area between the joints, which leads to the capsule being stretched, which in turn, increases the volume of the capsule. Now, when the volume of the capsule increases, the pressure of the fluid inside falls. The volume of the fluid capsule falls to a level where the dissolved gases in the capsule become less soluble and form bubbles. Once these bubbles burst, it creates that cracking sound we all are familiar with.

It is commonly known that cracking your knuckles after a long period of monotonous activity helps you 'loosen' the joints and relieve the stiffness. The joints no longer feel rigid and inflexible. This is because the muscles around the joint feel relaxed after popping them. However, cracking your knuckles too often may cause damage to your soft tissues and surrounding ligaments in the long run. Hence, it may be a good idea to curtail this habit.

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