For people who regularly crack their knuckles and joints, one common thing they hear is that it can cause damage. In this blog, we’ve taken a look at the myths associated with cracking knuckles and hand conditions such as arthritis.
What happens when you crack your knuckles?
Your joints are lubricated by synovial fluid. When your fingers are extended, the gases in the synovial fluid form bubbles in between the joint cavities. When you crack your fingers, the pressure of that bubble increases very suddenly and at a rapid pace, causing the bubble to pop and make the cracking noise. A recent study asserts that the act of cracking your knuckles creates a cavity in the synovial fluid found in the joints, and the sound heard is that cavity forming.
Once a person cracks his or her knuckles, it usually takes 20 to 30 minutes before they’re able to do it again. While some people experience relief when cracking their joints, others crack their knuckles out of habit. Regardless of the reason, there has been a long-held myth that cracking knuckles can contribute to arthritis.
Hand Conditions and Cracking Your Knuckles
Studies have shown there is little to no connection between cracking knuckles and arthritis in the hands. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to worry about.
People who crack their knuckles on a constant basis have been shown to be at a higher risk of inflammation in the hands and developing a weaker handgrip. There’s also the possibility of injuring your fingers. And while cracking your knuckles has not been found to cause these hand conditions, joints that make a cracking or popping sound on their own could be indicative of hand conditions such as bursitis, arthritis and tendinitis. Severe forms of those conditions in extreme cases may require hand surgery to relieve the symptoms and improve hand movement.
Ultimately, cracking your knuckles most likely won’t cause arthritis, but it is still a good habit to break to prevent injury, swollen hands or a weak grip. For more information on hand conditions you think you might be experiencing, talk to your doctor or specialist.