Some people are freaked out by the sound of cracking your knuckles and others can’t imagine a day without a crack. Kids become fascinated with the popping sound that happens when you twist your joints, and it can become habitual as they age. It typically starts with finger cracking, and then they learn to bend and twist other joints to get those magical pops.
Most adults preach the doctrine that cracking your knuckles makes you destined to develop arthritis. Contrary to popular belief, there is no definitive link between knuckle cracking and arthritis, or any other medical condition. This rumor is so prevalent because people find that popping sound annoying. Certain studies imply that knuckle cracking may lead to swelling, but no study has proven this direct connection.
Why Do Knuckles Pop?
You don’t have to worry about joints that pop, provided the cracking isn’t followed by immediate pain. Most joints crack because the muscle is tight, causing friction around the bones. The joints pull apart when you crack your knuckles, creating somewhat of a cavity. The cracking noise comes from the formation of that cavity. Gases, primarily carbon dioxide and nitrogen, fill the cavity before reentering the joint. Tendons that rub against joints can also cause the sound. You may notice that the action has to be quick for the pop to be heard. A slow movement typically doesn’t yield a pop.
Is Cracking Your Knuckles Bad For You?
People who crack their knuckles have gotten a bad reputation over the years, but it’s time for knuckle crackers to rejoice because it isn’t bad for you! You may be wondering about the other joints in your body, though. Consider your neck, back, knees, and ankles. If they naturally crack on their own, enjoy the feeling. People who purposefully crack these joints typically do it because they are experiencing pain and trying to provide relief. Forcing the crack can actually over-stretch your ligaments, pull your muscles, or misalign your spine, ultimately restricting mobility.
Cracking your neck or back only provides temporary relief. It is best to seek professional treatment to understand why you are experiencing pain. Try to visit a chiropractor and see what his or her professional opinion is. He or she may be able to help you strengthen and stabilize the area of pain, which may result in you cracking your body less. You may also benefit from stretching or gentle yoga poses.
While you probably shouldn’t crack every joint every hour of the day, cracking your knuckles isn’t hurting anyone, except for the people around you. Remember: if it hurts, you may want to see a professional.