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Does Cracking Your Fingers Cause Arthritis

When To See A Doctor

Cracking Knuckles: Does Cracking Knuckles Cause Arthritis

Cracking your knuckles doesnt cause harm, so it shouldnt be painful, cause swelling, or change the shape of the joint. These are signs that something is wrong, and you should be evaluated by your doctor.

Injuring your finger by pulling very forcefully or moving it in the wrong direction is usually very painful. Your finger may look crooked or start to swell. If this happens, you should see your doctor right away.

If you notice your joints are painful or swollen while cracking your knuckles, its likely due to an underlying condition and should be evaluated by your doctor.

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Other Habits Associated With Knuckle Cracking

One research study of 300 people reported that people who cracked their knuckles were more likely to have manual labor jobs and smoke.7

Manual labor can be a risk factor for osteoarthritis. If you have a manual labor job, finding ways to reduce daily stress on your joints may be more important than quitting knuckle cracking to lower your risk of arthritis.

Likewise, quitting smoking or other nicotine use can reduce your risk of serious medical problems, including lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease .

Common Causes And When To See A Healthcare Provider

Many people can make their fingers pop and snap, often called cracking knuckles. The sound you hear is caused by nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide bubbles moving in the fluid that surrounds your joints. Rest assured that the most common causes of finger-popping are not typically a problem.

When there is no pain associated with popping or snapping fingers, it is usually harmless. However, if your noisy finger joints are painful or swollen, you should contact your healthcare provider.

This article explains when snapping fingers and cracking knuckles can be signs of a problem. It will also discuss symptoms to be aware of and potential treatments.

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What Happens When You Crack Your Fingers

Researchers have been able to put these hypotheses to bed by discovering what exactly is going on when you snap-crackle-pop your fingers and knuckles. There is actually a medical term for cracking your joints, and its called articular release meaning you are releasing a sensation of pressure, creating relief after cracking the joint. Youre not breaking anything nothing is detaching.

When you crack your fingers, you are stretching the joint past its degree of usual rotation, but not past its anatomic barrier. In other words, you need something else to push it to that point, such as using your other hand to pull back the fingers or to squeeze the knuckles.

Researchers have reported that the cracking sound is due to a sudden release of gaseous bubbles from fluid in the joint. This mixture of gas and liquid is thought to be what causes the feeling of pressure in the first place.

When the joint is cracked, the pressure is released which leaves a feeling of relief, as well as a more comfortable range of motion. Most people dont feel this pressure in their fingers or other joints, so they have difficulty understanding what that pressure feels like.

And because it doesnt feel like pain, its difficult to describe the feeling to someone else. Suffice it to say that the pressure gives the sensation of a slight tension, and the tension is relieved when the joint is pushed or pulled, which often creates this cracking sound.

Are There Any Negative Side Effects

Cracking Your Knuckles Does Not Hurt Your Bones or Cause Arthritis the ...

People crack their knuckles because it tends to make the joints feel looser for a little while. As of now, there is no solid evidence that cracking your knuckles will lead to arthritis later on in life. However, it may not be totally harmless either. There are some that think habitually cracking your knuckles can lead to swollen joints and a loss of grip strength. Additionally, if cracking is accompanied by any pain, there may be an underlying issue that should be checked out.

Cracking your knuckles does not cause arthritis. However, if you are experiencing pain associated with the joints in your hands, it may be a good idea to meet with our hand specialist, to ensure there isnt a core issue.

To visit our Hand & Wrist Center at the Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine, please request an appointment online or call at 904-825-0540.

A member of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Dr. Lampley specializes in minimally invasive procedures including endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery and arthroscopy of the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder.

    Independently and Privately Owned |

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What About Other Health Issues

OK, so cracking your knuckles doesnt cause arthritis. But is it bad for you in other ways?

There is no evidence that the process of cracking knuckles can cause arthritis, but it can rarely damage the tendons that connect muscle to bones, said Dr. Scott Zashin, a Dallas-based internist and rheumatologist.

Indeed, Harvard Health Publishing notes that there have been occasional reports of injuries related to overly vigorous knuckle-cracking, but emphasizes that these are extreme exceptions. A 1990 study also found knuckle-cracking might be linked to swollen hands and lower grip strength.

Still, these potential adverse affects seem to be extremely rare. The real concern may simply related to psychological aspects of the habit.

There is no apparent damage caused by this activity save the annoyance it tends to provoke in people nearby, Hylland said. Many people feel a sense of relief, albeit short lived, after cracking their joints, suggesting that joint tightness may create some sense of discomfort for them. This cycle of tightening, cracking, tightening, etc. may promote the habit that some find difficult to break.

And no medical experts are touting any health benefits to incessant knuckle-cracking.

While it may be comforting for some people and used by others to deal with stressful situations, there is no evidence to suggest that it is good for the joints, Ehiorobo said.

Are There Any Risks Of Joint Cracking

There has been some research indicating that longtime knuckle crackers may experience hand swelling and a reduced hand grip over time, but there is still no evidence that cracking your knuckles causes arthritis.

However, if theres pain that accompanies your knuckle cracking, it could mean that there are other problems with the structure of the joint, according to WebMD, such as loose cartilage or injured ligaments. And some people with arthritis, bursitis, or tendinitis might notice cracking sounds because of the snapping of their swollen tissues.

If you feel pain when your knuckles crack, you should see a doctor to figure out why.

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Tendons Snapping Over Joints

Tendons keep muscles attached to bones, while ligaments connect bones to other bones. Ligaments can make popping noises when they tighten while the joint is moving. Tendons can make a popping noise when they move out of place and snap back into position as the joint moves.

People often hear these noises in their knee and ankle joints when they stand up from sitting or while walking up or down the stairs.

Is Knuckle Cracking Harmful In Other Ways

Does Cracking Your Knuckles Cause Arthritis?

While knuckle cracking isnt associated with arthritis, it has been connected to other problems with the hands. These include occasional dislocations or tendon injuries when the knuckle cracking is overly forceful. Cracking your knuckles has also been associated with decreased grip strength with aging. This can mean having more difficulty opening jars and even turning knobs.

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Study Conclusions On Whether Knuckle Cracking Causes Arthritis

There have been a few studies over the years that considered whether or not cracking knuckles caused arthritis. One study found that there was no increase of hand arthritis among knuckle crackers, however, knuckle cracking was related to hand swelling and lower grip strength.

Another study indicated that while knuckle cracking was not associated with arthritis, it was associated with damage to ligaments that surround the joint and dislocation of tendons. While cracking your knuckles is not linked to causing arthritis, there may be a connection to soft tissue injuries.

A study from 2011 looked at 215 people who had a hand X-ray within the past five years. Its interesting that 20% of them were habitual knuckle-crackers. The good news for those folks is that they were at no greater risk for hand osteoarthritis and it didnt matter how long they had been knuckle-crackers or how often they did it each day.

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What The Research Says About Knuckle Cracking

Several studies have been done to determine if knuckle cracking is associated with arthritis. To date, no link has been found.

In one report, researchers from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences examined a group of 215 people. Twenty percent of them said they cracked their knuckles regularly.

Results showed 18.1 percent of those participants who cracked their knuckles and 21.5 percent of those who didnt had arthritis in their hands. The investigators concluded that the chance of having arthritis was about the same in both groups.

In 1998, Dr. Donald Unger performed an informal study that was published as a letter to the editor in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism. As part of his experiment, the doctor cracked the knuckles on his left hand at least twice a day for 50 years, while leaving the knuckles on his right hand alone to serve as a control.

Dr. Unger estimated that the knuckles on his left hand were cracked at least 36,500 times. In his letter, he concluded that after 50 years, neither of his hands showed symptoms of arthritis, and there were no differences between the two hands.

The results of a study published in 2017 agreed with Dr. Ungers conclusions. Researchers found knuckle crackers had the same level of physical function as those who didnt crack their knuckles.

While research overwhelming suggests that knuckle cracking doesnt lead to arthritis, the following can increase your risk of developing the condition:

  • a previous joint injury

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Cracking Down On Knuckles

Youve all heard the story that cracking your knuckles will cause arthritis. Maybe your mom cant stand that popping noise and thats why she tells you knuckle cracking will damage your finger joints. Kidzworld did some digging around to find out what makes that popping noise and if it causes arthritis. Heres what we found out.

If You Crack Your Knuckles Dont Worry Too Much About Getting Arthritis But The Habit Isnt Harmless

Arthritis: Symptom and Treatment Articles

Ignoring generations of parents whove warned that knuckle cracking is bad for you, between 20 and 54 percent of Americans continue to engage in this annoying nervous habit. Many have been reassured by repeated clinical reports over the decades that there is no strong evidence that knuckle cracking causes arthritis. A 2018 Harvard Medical School blog went so far as to pronounce the practice harmless.

Harmless is overstating it, however, argue experts who have studied the fine print of the research. Even as theres no strong link to arthritis specifically osteoarthritis, the degeneration of the cartilage cushioning the ends of bones cracking knuckles, they conclude, may still harm your hands.

Seattle neurosurgeon Rod Oskouian is the most recent researcher to jump into this small but lively tributary of mainstream science, as co-author of a 2018 review of knuckle-cracking studies in the journal Clinical Anatomy.

Oskouian and his three colleagues pored over 26 sometimes-contradictory papers regarding the mechanisms and effects of knuckle cracking, beginning with a 1911 German treatise titled On the Dispute About Joint Pressure. He did so, he said, after becoming fascinated by the universal inability of his students through the years to explain what makes that cracking noise.

But that still doesnt give knuckle-crackers a pass especially not if they do it a lot and for a long time, or have a preexisting problem.

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Causes Of Arthritis In The Hands

Arthritic conditions can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, and tenderness in the small joints of the hands and fingers.

Inflammatory arthritis conditions, like RA, psoriatic arthritis, gout, and ankylosing spondylitis cause inflammation. Symptoms of inflammation include redness, warmth, swelling, and pain. In general, OA is degenerative, rather than inflammatory.

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If Someones Nagging You To Stop Your Knuckle Cracking Show Them This

Do you wince when people crack their knuckles? Or gasp are *you* the knuckle cracker in the room everyone stares at?

If you are a knuckle cracker, has anyone ever tried to get you to stop by warning you that your annoying hand habit will lead to osteoarthritis ?

Well sorry, mom theres no evidence to back up the claim that joint cracking can lead to arthritis.

Here, we address the finer points of cracking joints:

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Will I Get Arthritis From Cracking My Knuckles

Now, heres the good news

There is no scientific evidence that cracking your knuckles will have any adverse effect on youwhich basically means that cracking your knuckles isnt proven to lead to joint conditions like arthritis.

In fact, one study on knuckle cracking actually concludes that that habit is quite harmless afterconducting experiments on himself. Over his entire lifetime, he regularly cracked knuckles on one hand and tracked its condition using x-rays over the span of decades. The study showed that there are no differences between his left or right hand. This was supported by a larger study who concluded the same thing.

That said, compulsive knuckle crackers arent completely off the hook.

Think of what it takes to get that satisfying crack. Bending your fingers forward and back, pulling it forcefully to get a pop, twisting and turning joints at odd anglesall these can actually take its toll on the joint and cause the cartilage to wear away over time when its done constantly.

Additionally, one study conducted back in the 90sfound that people who regularly cracked their knuckles actually had weaker grip strengthon top of the possibility, albeit rare, of injuring yourself in your attempt to get a good pop.

Bottom line?

Even if cracking knuckles is unlikely to cause arthritis, theres still good reason to stop the habit.

So I Can Crack My Knuckles Freely There’s No Risk Of Arthritis

Does Cracking Your Knuckles Cause Arthritis? A Doctor Explains

There are several types of arthritis, but knuckle-cracking is most commonly associated with osteoarthritis. In simple terms, “Osteoarthritis is a disease where the articular cartilage, located at the end of the bone on each joint, starts to break down and flake off,” causing pain, stiffness and swelling over time, Dr. Fackler explains.

“Osteoarthritis is age- and genetic-related…and people don’t get significant osteoarthritis until they’re in their 40s, 50s or older,” Dr. Fackler says. “The vast majority of arthritis patients have a genetic predisposition to the disease. However, if you have an injury when you’re young or tear a ligament or meniscus, that puts you at higher risk for arthritis when you get older.”

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The True Cause Of Pain & Swelling With Arthritis

Osteoarthritis, or what most people refer to as arthritis, happens when the cartilage breaks down on the surface of the bone. Joints are supposed to be smooth and glide together, but over time, rough spots appear. Arthritis occurs when you have rough spots on top of rough spots. Once you have it, it continues to get worse.

Diagnosing arthritis requires identifying your symptoms. X-rays can show loss of cartilage, bone spurs or even bone rubbing against bone.

Is Cracking Your Fingers Bad For You

January 11, 2019 By Crystal Vera

Many people crack their knuckles, toes, back, and especially their fingers. The snapping, popping sound can cause those within earshot to recoil.

Perhaps you have heard that cracking your fingers can lead to arthritis, or that your fingers will become permanently disfigured. Maybe you were told as a child that cracking your fingers would stunt their growth.

So when you hear someone cracking their fingers or knuckles, you may admonish the person for doing irreparable damage to their joints. But is cracking your fingers and other joints really all that bad? The answer may surprise you.

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A Bigger Risk For Some

While for most of us cracking our joints is relatively safe there are some who are more at risk from serious complications.

Cracking joints is relatively safe however, cracking joints in the spine and neck can, in rare instances, cause some serious issues, Dr Murphy says. It can damage the vertebral discs between the bones of the spine, cause damage to the spinal cord or cause damage to the major blood vessels which run between the bones of the neck to our brains.

Dr Murphy says suggests anyone with a history of strokes, injuries to their neck, or problems with blood vessels, people taking blood-thinning medication, and people with arthritis should avoid cracking their back and neck. The same rules apply when seeing a professional to manipulate your neck and back, Dr Murphy adds.

Williams says: Most joints in the body can be manipulated, but most commonly in practice its a technique used on the spine. It often happens naturally as we move around so if you roll over in bed and hear a few clunks, its generally nothing to worry about.

There are conditions which mean spinal manipulation is not appropriate, she adds, including:

January 11, 2019 By Crystal Vera

Many people crack their knuckles, toes, back, and especially their fingers. The snapping, popping sound can cause those within earshot to recoil.

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