Many people have a habit of cracking their joints frequently. In fact, between 25% and 54% of people do it, much to the dismay of others. People who witness it are often warn them that they are causing joint damage or even arthritis. But is there really any truth to this warning from onlookers. Is cracking your knuckles really harmful or is that just a myth?
Here are some facts about joint cracking:
- The joints that most commonly make a sound are the knuckles, knees, ankles, back and neck.
- The easiest joints to crack are the interphalangeal and metacarpophalangeal joints in the fingers.
- The popping sound is believed to be gas bubbles bursting in the synovial fluid that surrounds the joints.
- Cracking sounds can also be caused by tendons snapping over a joint.
- It usually takes about 25-30 minutes before being able to crack the joint again.
- X-rays show that the gas bubbles can remain in the synovial fluid up to 20 minutes after cracking.
- There is no evidence based research that proves joint cracking causes arthritis.
- People who are cracking their joints show a higher rate of inflammation of the hands and a weaker grip.
Cracking Your Joints
Cracking your joints has not been linked to a higher incidence of arthritis, but it can cause damage in other ways. Most commonly cracking joints can lead to damage to ligaments surrounding joints and even dislocation of tendons and other soft tissue injuries. People who frequently crack their knuckles also experience an increased risk of hand swelling and lower grip strength.
Although the old wives tale that cracking your joints causes arthritis is not true, there are some negative side effects to doing so. This habit can be harmful to your joints and the surrounding soft tissue, so it is in a person’s best interest to stop cracking any of their joints. If people are looking for relief there are several stretches that they can do to alleviate stiffness in their joint.