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Can Cracking Your Back Cause Arthritis

Where Do The Cracking Sounds Come From

Does knuckle cracking cause arthritis? Should I crack my own spine?

Does cracking your knuckles cause arthritis? You can understand the answer better if you get an idea of exactly why you hear that cracking sound. You hear the sound when you stretch your fingers and expand the joint, which in turn reduces pressure between the joint and the ligaments that connect your joint with the bone. There are different gasses like nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and oxygen dissolved in the synovial fluid. These gases form little bubbles that cover the empty spaces caused due to depressurization. Those bubbles pop as the joint settles back into place and you hear a cracking sound.

It feels good to hear that cracking sound because you stimulate nerve endings present along the fingers when you stretch the joint. However, you cannot crack your fingers more than once in 15-30 minutes. That is mainly because those gasses take that much of time to dissolve back into the synovial fluid.

Do the Cracking Sounds Need to Be Treated?

You usually need no treatment for joint cracking and popping because no chronic health issues are associated with it. There are many myths associated with this though. Some people believe it can cause arthritis, and others say you can prevent these sounds by taking supplements or doing specific exercises.

When to Worry

Why Does Your Back Crack

There are a number of a reasons that your back can crack, but its believed to typically the result of gases like nitrogen and carbon dioxide being put under pressure in the joints of your spine and forming bubbles.

Notice we said typically. Heres the thing: no one is exactly sure why your joints pop when you put pressure on them.

Way back in the day , two doctors at St. Thomas Hospital in London tried to figure out why joints crack. To do this, they tied a string around the fingers of several volunteers fingers and pulled until they heard the knuckle crack and captured it all using x-ray images.

In the end, they found that a popping sound occurs when two joint surfaces are pulled apart with enough tension to cause a rapid drop in pressure within the synovial fluid and forms a gaseous bubble in the cavity.

This conclusion has been hotly disputed over the years because, 24 years after it was reached, researchers performed a second study using similar methods and decided that it was the gas bubble in the joint bursting, not forming, that made the tell-tale popping sound. The devil is in the details, right?

The results? Kawchuck said his findings the original 1947 study.


Well to put it simply, your joints make a cracking sound when a bubble forms. Typically, this happens when tension mounts in a joint to the point where synovial fluid rapidly accumulates and cavitation occurs.

Heres another, closer look at a joint cracking using ultrasound technology:

Does Cracking Your Back Stunt Growth

Since fluid or gas may be released in between vertebrae when you crack your back, its been said that this could cause stunted growth. This isnt the case.

Cracking your back relieves pressure between spinal discs, which isnt related to growth. Instead, growth occurs at the epiphyseal plate in long bones.

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Can Popping Your Back Or Neck Lead To A Spine Condition

Cracking your back once in a while should not be a cause for concern, nor does it mean that you will develop arthritis or a spine condition as a result.

However, that doesnt mean that habitually popping your back or neck is without risks. When you routinely crack your neck or back, youre putting yourself at risk for hypermotility, which essentially means your joints, tendons, muscles and ligaments lose elasticity. In addition, the urge to pop your neck or back on a regular basis may be a sign of an underlying condition, which should be examined by a specialist.

Arthritis Does Not Come From Back Cracking

Does Cracking Your Knuckles Cause Arthritis ...

One of the most common myths regarding back or knuckle cracking is that it will cause arthritis. Arthritis forms from natural wear and tear on the body as we age. A joint infection or injury can expedite the natural breakdown of tissue. However, cracking your back and other chiropractic care may actually ease some of your pain.

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The Truth And The Myth Behind The Cracking Knuckles Debate

Cracking your knuckles may aggravate the people around you, but it probably won’t raise your risk for arthritis. That’s the conclusion of several studies that compared rates of hand arthritis among habitual knuckle-crackers and people who didn’t crack their knuckles.

The “pop” of a cracked knuckle is caused by bubbles bursting in the synovial fluid the fluid that helps lubricate joints. The bubbles pop when you pull the bones apart, either by stretching the fingers or bending them backward, creating negative pressure. One study’s authors compared the sudden, vibratory energy produced during knuckle cracking to “the forces responsible for the destruction of hydraulic blades and ship propellers.”

Even if knuckle cracking doesn’t cause arthritis, there’s still good reason to let go of the habit. Chronic knuckle-cracking may lead to reduced grip strength. And there are at least two published reports of injuries suffered while people were trying to crack their knuckles.

For more information on keeping your hand healthy, nimble, and strong, buy Hands: Strategies for Strong, Pain-Free Hands, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Does Cracking Knuckles Cause Arthritis

Written byDr. Victor MarchionePublished onJanuary 21, 2017

Youve most likely heard the phrase, Dont crack your knuckles or youll get arthritis. This may have stopped you for the time being, but when no one was around, you probably went right back to it.But does the saying hold any truth, or is it just an old wives tale? Are we causing ourselves long-term harm by giving our knuckles a good crack?

While there hasnt been extensive research on the topic, you may be able to rest easy after hearing about the study findings. So, for all of you knuckle crackers, have yourself a good read, because this ones for you.

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If Theres Pain See Your Doctor

Although neck, back or knuckle cracking is probably harmless, the exception is if it causes pain. In that case, it could be a problem with the structure of the joint or surrounding areas, such as torn cartilage or damaged ligaments. If you already have arthritis or another issue, such as tendonitis, that could also be the cause of pain with cracking. Talk to your doctor to address the underlying problem, if you experience an uncomfortable feeling with joint cracking.

Are you experiencing joint problems? Our orthopedic specialists at Keck Medicine can help. If you are in the Los Angeles area, schedule an appointment or call USC-CARE .

Is Cracking Your Joints Dangerous

Does Knuckle Cracking Cause Arthritis?

You’ve probably heard the old saying that cracking your joints gives you arthritis – but is there any truth in it? The truth is all our joints can crack naturally on their own, so it’s not as dangerous as you might think.

Reviewed byDr Sarah Jarvis MBE
12-Nov-20·5 mins read

Dr Daniel Murphy of charity Versus Arthritis, and osteopath Hannah Williams, owner of Burton Joyce Osteopathy, explain why our joints crack and if it’s safe.

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Quick Dose: Is Cracking Your Back Bad

Are you guilty of cracking your back? Sometimes there is nothing more satisfying than that release of tension followed by that little pop. But it turns out, the popping noise you experience comes from pockets of gas from synovial fluid in your joints responding to sudden force. The urge to crack likely comes from your joints being out of alignment or restricted in their movements, which impacts the surrounding area.

Northwestern Medicines orthopaedic chiropractor David W. Flatt, DC, explains, When joint restrictions exist, its common that surrounding muscles will tighten around that region, which unfortunately increases the stiffness. The motion created when cracking your back will release that tension, resulting in a pleasant sensation.

As great as it might feel, its important to leave cracking your back to the professionals. By cracking your own back, you could actually make your back issues worse and cause more pain, muscle strain or injury. Professionals can better determine how to manipulate your spine with proper force, without causing additional damage. They can also address any additional issues you might have.

In the meantime, you might relieve back pain by using cold and heat packs on the area. Gentle stretches may also help. If you continue to feel discomfort, consult a medical professional, who can help find the treatment that is right for you.

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Back Cracking And Arthritis

A common warning people hear when they crack their back is that if they continue cracking their back, they will develop arthritis. Cracking your joints does not cause arthritis, nor does it cause joint enlargement. When a person visits a chiropractor, the chiropractor will adjust their back, often cracking it to ease symptoms of arthritis. That being said, if a person tries to crack their own back or if they have an untrained person do it, they could aggravate their joints, which will lead to stiffness or swelling.

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Where Does The Pop Come From

The popping sound heard when cracking your neck or spine is believed to come from the same process that makes your knuckles crack. Joints are surrounded by fluid-filled membranes that act as a lubricant and shock absorber so your bones dont grind together when you move. The gases in the fluid, most notably nitrogen and carbon dioxide, escape when pressure is applied to the joint, which creates the popping sound.

While Its Probably Not Going To Lead To Harm Cracking Your Knuckles Doesnt Necessarily Have Any Benefits Either

Myth Mayhem: Does Knuckle

We all know a knuckle cracker. If youre one yourself, you probably spent your childhood listening to well-meaning adults tell you to stop, before you cause damage to your joints.

As an adult, you might also get a feeling of relief out of cracking your back or neck but why does this happen, and is it safe? Heres what you should know.

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Is Cracking Your Back Bad For You

In moderation, the answer is no. Studies have shown that occasionally cracking your back can help relieve pressure in your spine without adverse effects. However, when done habitually, popping can cause excessive wear on your joints and potentially lead to premature breakdown.

Okay, so you have our official answer, now heres how we got to the conclusion:

It turns out that many smart, and a few reckless, people over the years have wondered what the effects of habitually cracking joints are. This being the case, there has been a lot research done on the topic.

But before we get into the nitty-gritty of cracks and pops, we thought it would be helpful to help shed a little light on a few things:

  • We wanted to make sure that everyone knows what a joint actually is. Simple enough.

  • We wanted to explain why joints actually crack.

  • What Causes The Sound When You Crack Your Knuckles

    Your joints are surrounded by a capsule, or sac. The capsule contains a liquid called synovial fluid, which acts as a lubricant and prevents friction so the joints can move around smoothly. Synovial fluid contains gas bubbles.

    When you crack your knuckles, you stretch the space between your finger joints, which causes the bubbles to burst and create that distinctive popping sound.

    The reason you cant crack the same knuckle or joint twice in a row is because it takes some time for the gas bubbles to accumulate again in the joint.

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    Does Cracking My Back Cause Permanent Harm

    Are you wondering if you’re doing more harm than good when you crack your back? If so, you’re not alone. Thousands, if not millions, of people routinely ask themselves or their health care providers the same question. There’s just something about cracking your back that feels so good but also so wrong. In today’s post, we’ll give you all the information you need to know about exactly what happens when you crack your back. To start things off, let’s go over some related anatomy.

    Is It True That Cracking Bones Are A Sign Of Arthritis

    Does Cracking Your Knuckles Cause Arthritis?

    Many people assume that people whose joints break frequently are more prone to arthritis. The excellent news is that the old falsehood tale about cracking your knuckles causing arthritis is utterly untrue. As long as the breaking isnt followed by any discomfort or inflammation, its completely harmless, and you shouldnt be concerned.

    Its recommended to get medical assistance if youve experienced increasing joint sounds in specific regions that dont lessen with stretching or become bothersome.

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    Is It Bad To Crack Your Back While Pregnant

    Cracking your back while youre pregnant is fine as long as its done with caution. Be aware that discomfort you may feel in your back could be due to the weight and position of your baby. Cracking your back may be more difficult as your pregnancy progresses.

    You may wish to find a chiropractor who specializes in prenatal care. Adjusting your spine while pregnant isnt recommended if you have any concerns like vaginal bleeding, ectopic pregnancy, or toxemia. Avoid any twisting or movements that put pressure on your abdomen.

    Keep in mind that your body produces increased levels of the hormone relaxin during pregnancy. This helps you to be more flexible during delivery, but it can also cause you to overstretch. You may want to consider pregnancy yoga stretches to relieve general aches and pains.

    Can Cracking Your Back Frequently Lead To Back Pain

    Modern life can take a toll on your body. Many people have jobs that require them to sit behind a desk or stand on their feet all day. After a few hours of being in the same position, you may start to feel the tension in your back. This causes you to twist and turn and eventually crack your back. The tension melts away, and you feel better. When you crack your back, you are releasing carbon dioxide that has a buildup in back joints. If you have the urge to crack your back, it is likely because you have some instability or weakness in your back. You feel pain or tension relief because the buildup of pressure caused by gases in your joints gets released. However, cracking your back is not fixing the problem. The root of your problem is that there is a segment of your spine thats not moving properly.

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    Keeping Your Hands Healthy

    Should you have questions about maintaining healthy hands, be sure to check out our various blogs on joint protections techniques. You can also contact an Athletico Hand Therapist who have specialized training and expertise in the treatment of arthritic conditions and injuries of the hands and upper extremities.

    Question: Are There Any Side Effects To Cracking Knuckles

    Can cracking your fingers give you arthritis.Can arthritis ...

    There is no evidence that cracking knuckles causes any damage such as arthritis in the joints. However, a couple of reports in the medical literature are available associating knuckle cracking with injury of the ligaments surrounding the joint or dislocation of the tendons which improved with conservative treatment. A study found that after many years of cracking habitual knuckle crackers may have reduced grip strength compared with people not cracking their knuckles.

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    But Wait There’s More Here’s What You Shouldn’t Crack

    Dr. Fackler advises avoiding popping the neck, as it can cause inflammation around the nerves and lead to more serious injuries long-term. “I encourage people not to habitually pop their necks, especially kids.”

    So, as it turns out, you can crack your knuckles, limitlessly, without the consequences of arthritis. Just don’t be too caught off guard if your rings fit a little tighter after a knuckle-cracking session. Cracking knuckles can cause temporary swelling or a subtle increase in the size of your hands, but is ultimately harmless. “There are no long-term studies that show knuckle-cracking causes any damage,” Dr. Fackler says. Until then, “When it comes to your fingers, don’t even worry about it.”

    Snap, crackle and pop away.

    What Happens When You Crack Your Knuckles

    The need to pop your joints is a medical mystery. No one really knows why this phenomenon exists or its purpose. The mechanics behind joints cracking is well understood, though. A joint is an intersection where two bones connect. The human body has around 360 joints that bring bones together to form a skeleton that is able to bend and move freely.

    Joints are surrounded by a membrane full of fluid. The membrane serves to protect the bone caps from friction damage as you move. When you yank on a joint trying to pop it, you create negative space that pulls in some of the fluid. That popping sound that makes Mom cringe is the influx of that fluid.

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    Increase Your Level Of Activity

    Moving around more is a simple remedy. If you spend a lot of time sitting or standing in the same posture, your joints can become stiff and you may need to crack them to relieve the stiffness. Move about a lot throughout your breaks. If youre sitting at a desk all day, get up at least every half-hour.

    Taking Care Of Your Joints

    Cracking Knuckles: Does Cracking Knuckles Cause Arthritis

    The best thing you can do is to avoid stress on your hands and pay special attention to protecting the joints that cause any problem. While it will never be possible to avoid painful activities completely, you can still make minor changes to keep pain under control. You may want to try some exercises to keep your hands strong and young. For instance:

    1. Open and Close

    Keeping your fingers together, hold your hands up in the air and then spread your fingers apart as gently as possible. Hold this posture for a few seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat the same 10 times.

    2. Fist Flex

    Start with your hands in an upright position and your fingers apart. Slowly close your fingers together and make a fist but keep your thumb on the outside. Hold this position for a few seconds and then open your fingers once again. Keep in mind that you should never clench or squeeze your fist. Repeat 5-10 times for good effects.

    3. Thumb Circles

    Keep your hands in the “thumbs-up” position and then slowly rotate your thumb in circle. Change directions after a few seconds.

    4. Tip Touch

    With your hands in an upright position, spread your fingers apart. Starting from your little finger, slowly touch your thumb with the tip of every finger. Open your hand back up after touching one finger and then start again.

    5. Wrist Rotate and Flex

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