Myth Busters: Cracking Your Knuckles Causes Arthritis

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Many of us are guilty of it. Tension builds up in our hands and to bring relief, we mindlessly bring our fingers together and “pop, pop, pop!”

Knuckle cracking is a common habit that gets a bad rap. Many believe that cracking your joints, specifically your knuckles, can cause swelling or arthritis. Is there truly any scientific backing for the claim that cracking your knuckles is bad for your joints?

According to Dr. Samuel Capra of the White-Wilson Medical Center Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Clinic, this is simply a common misconception.

“Because of the popularity of this belief,” Dr. Capra explains, “there has been quite a bit of research into the matter. The majority of studies find that there is no link between knuckle cracking and osteoarthritis or joint swelling.”

As Dr. Capra describes, the “pop” that sounds when you crack your knuckles occurs when you stretch the space between your finger joints. This, in turn, causes gas bubbles in the synovial fluid located around the joints to burst, resulting in the cracking sound.

“This is the reason you are generally unable to crack the same knuckle twice in a row,” Dr.Capra adds. “It takes time for the gas bubbles to form again after you pop them.”

This myth is BUSTED!

Dr. Samuel Capra is board-certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and practices at White-Wilson Medical Center in Fort Walton Beach. Dr. Capra has over 30 years of experience in orthopaedics and sports medicine and is now accepting new patients.