Does cracking your knuckles cause arthritis?

Does cracking your knuckles cause arthritis?

This action is something many of us do often subconsciously. For a long time, the idea that this caused one to develop arthritis was bandied about. Luckily this has been proven to simply be an old wives’ tale. A number of studies compared the rates of hand arthritis among habitual knuckle crackers and those that didn’t crack their knuckles. There was no significant difference in rate at which arthritis developed. Cracking your knuckles has few known negative side effects (other than perhaps annoying those around you). The audible pop that you hear is as a result of bubbles in the synovial fluid (the fluid that lubricates your joints) popping. When you stretch or bend your fingers to a greater degree you create negative pressure thus causing the bubbles to pop. One word of caution; while cracking your knuckles certainly doesn’t lead to an increased risk of arthritis, it can over time lead to reduced grip strength. There have also been published reports of at least two injuries caused by doing so, and injury to a joint can increase the risk of arthritis. So, in closing, it might be worth trying to replace the habit using a stress ball, worry beads or a fidget spinner. 

Article Author
Arthritis National Research Foundation
arthritisresearch@curearthritis.org

The Arthritis National Research Foundation's mission is to provide initial research funding to brilliant, investigative scientists with new ideas to cure arthritis and related autoimmune diseases. Writing articles about the patients affected and the science being done to find a cure shows why we need to come together to #CureArthritis!

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