Does Cracking Your Knuckles Cause Arthritis?

Does Cracking Your Knuckles Cause Arthritis?


Have you
ever cracked your knuckles and had someone
yell at you to stop because it causes arthritis? 25-54% of the world’s population cracks
their knuckles, men more so than women. Does this mean up to 54% of us will get arthritis?
The short answer is no. There are different types of arthritis and no study has ever shown
a link between cracking your knuckles and it causing any type of arthritis. Let’s
talk about why and what is actually causing the “cracking” noise when you crack you’re
knuckles. The knuckles are the joints formed by the
bones in our fingers. Each finger consists of three bones (phalanges). They’re named
based on where they are in relation to the palm of your hand. There’s the proximal
phalange (closest to the palm), the middle phalange, and the distal phalange (farthest
from the palm). The first knuckle is called the metacarpophalangeal joint (MCP). (Say
that after drinking 3 beers and watch the laughter ensue!) The second knuckle is the
proximal inter-phalangeal joint (PIP) and the last knuckle is the distal inter-phalangeal
joint (DIP). The fingers, and thus the joints, are held in place by ligaments and tendons.
There are no muscles in the fingers and movement is controlled by forearm muscles pulling on
your finger tendons. Your knuckles are also covered by a joint
capsule known as your synovial capsule. There’s fluid within this capsule known as synovial
fluid. This fluid provides the lubrication and nutrients needed for the joint and surrounding
bone. This fluid also contains several gases (oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide). When
you crack your knuckles, you stretch out the synovial capsule creating a negative pressure
within the joint. This pulls the gasses out of the fluid in the form of a bubble which
bursts to create the popping sound. To crack the same knuckle again, you have to wait for
more gases to build up in the synovial fluid. There are over 100 different types of arthritis.
Generically, arthritis is simply inflammation of your joints. It can be caused by everything
from autoimmune problems (rheumatoid arthritis), bacterial infections (nongonococcal bacterial
arthritis), to sexually transmitted diseases (gonococcal arthritis). In the case of cracking
knuckles, the type of arthritis often thought to be caused by it is the most common, osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis can be a normal result of the
aging process. It can also be caused by excessive wear and tear on the joint. The result is
cartilage breaking down and wearing away. The bones can begin to rub together and sometimes
cause spurs to develop. Pain, swelling, and stiffness are the most common symptoms. So does the constant “popping” of the
gases within the synovial fluid cause the “excessive wear and tear” that can cause
osteoarthritis? There have been several studies that looked at this question, and none have
shown that habitual knuckle cracking causes wear and tear. One study looked at 300 patients
over 45 years old and found that among the worst knuckle crackers there was no increase
in the incidence of arthritis. They did find, however, that the more you cracked, the lower
your grip strength was over time. So the next time you feel like cracking your
knuckles, do so with the knowledge you won’t get arthritis from it. You might, however,
have damage to your ligaments and tendons that reduces your grip strength, but hey,
what vice doesn’t come with
a little risk!

92 comments on “Does Cracking Your Knuckles Cause Arthritis?

  1. Jayden Post author

    I can keep cracking my knuckles without waiting. I just keep going and going until my hands get tired. Does that mean I have too much of that fluid? Or is

    Reply
  2. sherylgirl5 Post author

    Disappointed in use of the feature image since the answer is "no, cracking knuckles has not been proven to cause arthritis." The headline plus the feature image sets arthritis awareness back quite a few decades.

    Reply
  3. Meghan Gracie Post author

    I crack my wrist. And, I don't have to wait 30 minutes to crack again. It just cracks every time I want it to.

    Reply
  4. Peyton Stevens Post author

    If I keep cracking Knuckles will it hurt when I'm like 40 or 50 years old? I'm 15 now and I tried to stop cracking them but it's to difficult for me to do!!!??

    Reply
  5. NutsinBrazil Post author

    What? No mention of the guy that for decades cracked the knuckles of only one hand to compare? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3011085/Can-cracking-knuckles-cause-arthritis-One-man-cracked-joints-one-hand-60-YEARS-out.html

    Reply
  6. KaleKaZaM Post author

    What's weird is I only crack the mid section and bottom parts of my middle fingers. Literally. This isn't an insult. It's true, and I don't know why I don't like cracking my other fingers because they don't crack as much as my middle ones do.

    Reply
  7. Jayvin_ 303 Post author

    Then how come some people can crack their fingers continuously without needing to wait for the bubbles to form again?

    Reply
  8. Jessie Grider Post author

    Is it bad to crack your back? Sometimes when I have been sitting a while or when I am at work, I have a strong urge to lean back and stretch my neck and hear a crack which seems to release tension. It is sort of in my lower neck but also in my back. It feels pretty good so I keep doing that, usually a few times a day.

    Reply
  9. GrimStrider Post author

    Aaah, i knew that… but getting better to understand it, and seeing you explain it more thorough makes me more content….. like!! cracks

    Reply
  10. Sausscery Post author

    Cracking finger joints (knuckles)—cracking joints is the act of pulling bones apart to release air bubbles in the joints, which does not cause arthritis. The sound of a knuckle being cracked happens when joint manipulation in humans produce a sharp cracking or popping sound.

    Reply
  11. RoseOfTheNight4444 Post author

    Well, that explains why I have been dropping things in the last several years… Wish it wasn't something I picked up from my dad years ago, I have to pop joints or they seriously hurt

    Reply
  12. iTz_ShadowForce Post author

    i usualy crack my knucles 8 times a hand in all fingers in both hands so yay i can do this every day im not gona have pain i jist crack my knuckles because it feels good and i feel stronger

    Reply
  13. ew wtf Post author

    When I started cracking my knuckles and it hurt cause I wasn't used to it but now I do it , it's very comforting

    Reply
  14. Skylark * Post author

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    Reply
  15. Eric Scott Post author

    I have been cracking my knuckles all my life. My dad used to get on me about it. I also crack my neck frequently. My joints do definitely feel better after the cracking. Now a days, I don't have to do anything special to hear my joints crack. They do it on their own through normal movement.

    Reply
  16. Zuwu Post author

    Our really strict staff teacher(who this day was our teacher cause our teacher was at a meeting) was really strict and after someone has cracked their knuckles she said "don't crack your knuckles it gives you athritist" and me being the smart kid (we have other smart kids but they only know school subjects nothing useful outside of school) I said to my friend"she's really dumb because cracking your fingers doesn't give you athritist" he was my friend but we only hung out in class he believes everything I say because he knows I'm smart so then I said it to all of my closest friends and they said it does and I knew it didn't so now I'm researching to show that dumb staff that she is dumb and to show my friends that are dumb

    Reply
  17. Nenad Ljubisavljevic Post author

    can you please help me and give me a your opinion, i have crack my right hand little finger on the left side like unlimited time and after some time when i crack it for like 50 secs it does hurt, can i get arthritis or not i really really wonder i think it has happened so i can do this beacuse i was jitter clicking on the mouse up to 15 cps without knowing the proper way.

    Reply
  18. Kronalord Post author

    Even if it did cause them it does have a rare but major side effect I knew a guy who from cracking his knuckles he got air in the gap enough that his finger is all fucked up

    Reply
  19. B_kursed Post author

    I crack my knuckles and wrists, and when I’ve been waking up in the morning my joints feel stiff and feel over used. Does anyone else get this?

    Reply
  20. klarissa Post author

    It’s not bubbles look it up, I can pop my wrist nonstop, I can pop it 100+ times without stopping probably way over 100

    Reply
  21. PriceyboyYT Post author

    It's fake cracking your knuckles doesn't cases arthritis people saying that because some people find it annoying

    Reply
  22. Peachy Pie Post author

    i cant crack my knuckles as fast now because before i crack my knuckles 10x a day lol now i can only do 2

    Reply
  23. Today I Found Out Post author

    Now that you know the truth about cracking your knuckles check out this video and find out the answer to the question- Why are Boxing Rings Called Rings When They Are Square?:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMs-UpXIRGs

    Reply
  24. Instinctz Post author

    I’ve been cracking my knuckles like normal people do fist shape and it aches now but when I pull them backwards they dont

    Reply
  25. Brofist 27 Post author

    Did anyone else see the advert when an old man died and a man came and said “don’t feel bad for him his like f***ing sucked

    Reply
  26. Chelsea Hunter22 Post author

    I crack my knuckles everyday or whenever I can mostly more then once each day I'm trying to stop cause at points my Knuckles and fingers start to hurt

    Reply
  27. Thanh Thoang Post author

    I KNEW IT! This girl in my class said I'd get arthritis if I crack my knuckles but I said it was fake and I was right!

    Reply
  28. Eevee Doodle Post author

    I can crack my left arm and wrist as many times as i want but for my fingers i have to wait 5 minutes

    Reply
  29. Bobby Francis Post author

    I've been cracking my knuckles since the fifth grade, when I was 10 years old. But in later years, I drank apple juice everyday, for over 30 years. So now I'm 63, and what is arthritis like? I have NOOOOO idea.

    Reply
  30. Ayden Kadera Post author

    Bro not lying but it’s literally a yes or no question not a hole ass essay you got ready for your college power point.

    Reply

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