Does Cracking Your Knuckles Really Cause Arthritis?
It has long been believed by the general public that the sometimes satisfying, sometimes annoying habit of cracking your knuckles causes arthritis down the line, but does it really? The short answer is no. But before we get into the effects of cracking your knuckles, let’s figure out exactly what is going on in your fingers.
What is “cracking your knuckles”?
The first thing to know is that there is no actual cracking going on. Joints (which include your knuckles) are covered by the synovial capsule. Inside the capsule is synovial fluid which helps lubricate the joint. Gases are continuously dissolved in the synovial fluid. When you “crack” your knuckle, you stretch the capsule which lowers the pressure and creates a vacuum. A bubble of gas is formed and due to the pressure from when you bent your finger, it bursts, creating the popping or cracking sound you hear.
Are there any negative side effects?
People crack their knuckles because it tends to make the joints feel looser for a little while. As of now, there is no solid evidence that cracking your knuckles will lead to arthritis later on in life. However, it may not be totally harmless either. There are some that think habitually cracking your knuckles can lead to swollen joints and a loss of grip strength. Additionally, if cracking is accompanied by any pain, there may be an underlying issue that should be checked out.
Cracking your knuckles does not cause arthritis. However, if you are experiencing pain associated with the joints in your hands, it may be a good idea to meet with our hand specialist, to ensure there isn’t a core issue.
To visit our Hand & Wrist Center at the Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine, please request an appointment online or call at 904-825-0540.
A member of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Dr. Lampley specializes in minimally invasive procedures including endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery and arthroscopy of the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder.