Sunday, February 14, 2010

"Stop cracking your knuckles, or else you will get arthritis!"

has been a common phrase from parents trying to protect their children's hands. I was a victim of cracking my knuckles after I picked up the habit from my fellow classmates. My mother was very against me cracking my knuckles because she thought I would develop arthritis when I got older. I investigated into the popular myth and made some interesting discoveries. Just as we discussed in class, I believe the pressure placed on the knuckles when you crack them is similar to the weather and increased pain myth. Also, some disliked the popping sound from cracking knuckles, so somewhere arthritis may have been associated to discourage people from cracking their knuckles. Interestingly enough, I found out the working of a joint and what actually occurs when you crack your knuckles.
How does cracking your knuckles work? In the article, "Does cracking your knuckles cause arthritis?" Carol and Richard Eustice explain it well. Basically, a joint is where the ends of two bones meet, and at the ends of the two bones are covering of articular cartilage. The cartilage is surrounded by a joint capsule which is filled with synovial fluid. The synovial fluid contains dissolved gases, so when you crack your knuckles, the joint capsule expands, Thu, you get the cracking sound, which is gases rapidly being released fro the fluid. Since we now know what actually occurs when you crack your knuckles, let's see what studies have shown.
Studies on cracking your knuckles have shown no increased chance of arthritis of the hands. One study conducted found that knuckle cracking could cause hand swelling and lower grip strength, but no arthritis. Another study supports that cracking your knuckle was not linked to arthritis, but could cause damage to soft tissues. Even thought cracking your knuckles are not linked to arthritis, there are still undesirable effects.
Learn more about cracking knuckles from Dr. JaDean Anderson by watching this video:


  1. What really surprises me about this is that I was once taught in a BIO class that cracking your knuckles ultimately leads to arthritis! So I've been going around preaching to everyone about how they should not crack their knuckles! So clearly I am being ridiculous for nothing, but is it true that it causes your hands/knuckles to get all twisted and swollen? Or is that part of the arthritis myth? -- Jennifer Rowedda

  2. I agree with the comment above. I was also taught during my high school biology class that cracking your knuckles will cause swelling of your fingers and ultimately arthritis. I never engaged in this habit not only for that reason, but also because I absolutely hate the sound. I always preach to others, such as my cousin, that cracking her knuckles is not only annoying, but it is also what causes her hands to swell up and that she may end up with arthritis one day as a result. I always thought that this made sense and that the two were very much related.