You know how when you’re at a party and you crack your knuckles, there’s always that one guy who says you’re going to get arthritis? Is he right? Does cracking your knuckles really cause joint problems?
Nope. Cracking your knuckles is perfectly safe. When you crack your knuckles what you’re really doing is popping the joint in and out of its socket. The knuckle is held in place with a lubricant called synovial fluid. When you crack ‘em, the bones pull apart away a bit and the pressure that surrounds the fluid reduced. Bubbles form and then pop. That’s the sound you’re hearing and experts call it cavitation.
It usually takes about half an hour before you can crack again. That’s because it takes a while for “the gas to redissolve into the joint fluid. During this period of time, your knuckles won’t crack,” according to HowStuffWorks.
As for whether or not you’re hurting yourself, fear not. A doctor from The Johns Hopkins University explains that any risks associated with knuckle cracking are minor. “There is no evidence that cracking knuckles causes any damage such as arthritis in the joints.” However, one study did find that people who cracked their knuckles often did have reduced grip strength.
If, like me, you’re addicted to knuckle cracking, you might find this article from Scientific American a good read. Here’s the gist: A kid was told that the habit would lead to problems. Over 50 years, he did an experiment in which he cracked the knuckles on his left hand often. He cracked his right hand rarely. “There was no arthritis in either hand, and no apparent differences between the two hands,” he concluded
In other words, crack away.
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