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Cracking the myth of knuckle cracking


“Don’t crack your knuckles! Its not good manners, even worse you’ll have a bad case of arthritis when you become of my age.” …or something like that mothers all over the world have told their children. And like all other children, you’ve been cracking your knuckles when she’s out of sight, or shot for that matter.


The good news you knuckle cracker is that your mother was wrong all along. Well, at least for the “arthritis” part. Medical studies have shown no relation between knuckle cracking and arthritis till date. When you crack your knuckles, you are not inviting arthritis or causing any permanent damages them.


When you crack your knuckles, the popping sound you hear is a gas bubble escaping from between your knuckle joints. The knuckle's bones, ligaments and tendons are surrounded by a thick liquid called synovial fluid. Over time, this synovial fluid becomes filled with tiny bubbles of gas. When you push or pull on the joints to crack your knuckles, the tendons and ligaments become stretched out and the knuckle bones separate slightly. When the synovial fluid tries to fill in this gap, the trapped gas bubbles combine to form one large bubble. This bubble pops in order to make room for the sudden rush of synovial fluid into a capsule between the knuckle joints. When you successfully crack your knuckles, the popping sound is soon followed by a satisfying stretch of the joint and increased mobility. This gaseous build-up is not harmful to the body if it is not released through knuckle cracking. After approximately 25-30 minutes, there should be enough gas built up to crack your knuckles again.


However excessive knuckle cracking has been linked with the possibility of loss of grip strength or swelling around the joints. When you crack your knuckles, or any other body joint for that matter, you are subjecting the tendons and bones to unnatural pressure. Over a long period of time, body tissues do not recover from such manipulations as they once did. This can create the same types of joint pain as professional athletes experience after years of performing a routine action. Better not let your mother know about this!

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