How It Affects Your Joints
Although cracking your knuckles regularly can be relatively harmless, it can also cause damage if its done incorrectly or too frequently. If you pull or crack your knuckles incorrectly, you can actually cause a ligament injury or even dislocate your fingers. If you notice sudden pain or swelling after cracking your knuckles, you may have caused an injury to your joint ant you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
Cracking your knuckles consistently can also wear away the cartilage in your joints over time, resulting in pain-causing inflammation within your joints.
How The Knuckle Joint Works And Why You Can Crack It
A joint is formed where the ends of two bones come together. The ends of the two bones are covered by articular cartilage. The cartilage is surrounded by what is called the joint capsule. Inside the joint capsule, there is synovial fluid which serves as a lubricant for the joint and also as a source of nutrients for the cells that maintain the joint cartilage.
Synovial fluid contains dissolved gasses oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. When you crack your knuckles or when pressure is applied to a joint, the pressure inside the joint capsule expands but the expansion is limited by how much synovial fluid is contained in the joint. Synovial fluid cannot expand unless pressure inside the joint capsule drops and the dissolved gasses can escape out of the fluid. The cracking sound comes from the gasses rapidly being released from the fluid.
What Causes Neck Cracking And Popping
The snapping or grinding of your neck may be caused by:
Synovial fluid changes. The synovial fluid between your joints lubricates movement, and when the pressure changes in this fluid, it creates gaseous bubbles. According to a 2015 study, the creation of these bubbles makes a cracking or popping sound.
Ligament or tendon movement. When tendons and ligaments move over bone, they can make a snapping sound that is heard when you move your joints.
Bone grinding. If the cartilage in the joints has worn down enough, the grinding or cracking sound you hear may be due to the bones grinding against each other.
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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:
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Why You Shouldn’t Crack Your Knuckles
- Henry County Hospital
Whether you do it for a sense of relief or as a nervous habit, many of us are familiar with the popping sound and sensation that happens when we crack our knuckles. While this habit may be a satisfying experience, cracking your knuckles too often may lead to issues affecting your hand health.
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What To Do If You Have Arthritis
Deal recommends you stay active and maintain a healthy diet and weight to manage arthritis. At home, enjoy a paraffin bath. The warm wax limbers the tissues and allows mobility in the joints.
Use medical intervention when needed, Deal advises.
You can manage arthritis pain with physical or hand therapy, finger splints and by modifying your activity. Medication options include cortisone shots or anti-inflammatory medications.
If needed, surgery can help. Depending on where you have arthritis, knuckle replacements or joint fusions can successfully relieve symptoms. Surgery even prevents the treated area from developing arthritis again.
When To See A Doctor
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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Why Have Our Joints Evolved To Crack
Perhaps the most interesting question is why our joints developed in such a way that theyre able to crack.
I had a conversation recently with Jerome Fryer, a Canadian researcher who was involved in the above study with the simulated joint. He raised an interesting idea which hasnt been published. Could the ability of our joints to crack actually serve a useful purpose?
When the simulated joints in his study were filled with normal water, the joint surfaces separated easily, which formed bubbles but didnt produce the cracking sound.
But when the water was treated to remove all of the dissolved gasses and microscopic bubbles, the simulated joint performed more like a real joint. That is, much more force was needed to separate the surfaces, and only then did it produce a cracking sound.
Perhaps the fact it requires a large force to separate our joints, which happens to also produce a cracking sound, may be very useful by assisting in joint stability and thereby providing protection from our joints being damaged.
When A Joint Is Bent And Cannot Be Straightened This Condition Is Called
Mallet finger is an injury to the end of the finger that causes it to bend inwards towards the palm. You wont be able to straighten the end of your finger because the tendon connecting the muscle to the finger bone is stretched or torn.
Similarly, what is Boutonnière deformity? Boutonniere deformity is a deformed position of the fingers or toes, in which the joint nearest the knuckle is permanently bent toward the palm while the farthest joint is bent back away .
In this manner, can a boutonniere deformity be fixed?
The takeaway. A boutonniere deformity is a fairly common complication of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and finger injuries. Its often treated by wearing a splint when caught early. In more severe cases, you may need surgery to repair the tendons in your finger or straighten the middle joint.
What causes a boutonniere deformity?
Boutonnière deformity is generally caused by a forceful blow to the top side of a bent middle joint of a finger. It also can be caused by a cut on the top of the finger, which can sever the central slip from its attachment to the bone.
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Is It Okay To Crack My Joints
When cracking your fingers, toes, shoulders, elbows, back, or neck, the sense of relief is achieved when that tension is released. The joint feels relaxed again, which helps to alleviate stress in the body.
There is actually no evidence that cracking your fingers is harmful or can cause damage. On the contrary, some researchers have discovered a lower incidence of arthritis in people who do crack their fingers.
This continues to be studied to determine whether this is a coincidence, or whether cracking your fingers actually helps prevent arthritis from developing. That said, if you dont feel any natural tension in your hands or joints, dont try to crack them, because you may actually cause damage to your tendons or ligaments.
Does Cracking Your Knuckles Cause Arthritis
Anxiety, restlessness or just pure pleasure there are lots of reasons why many find comfort in cracking their knuckles. But, does it cause arthritis? The short answer is no.
According to Houston Methodist Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Dr. John Fackler, “There are no known detrimental effects to cracking your knuckles.” At worst, knuckle-cracking may cause temporary swelling or a feeling of weakness in the hands but arthritis, not quite.
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So Does Cracking Your Knuckles Cause Arthritis
The short answer? Probably not, according to Husni. A study published in 2011 in The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that habitual knuckle cracking did not seem to be a risk factor for hand osteoarthritis. But Husni says cracking your knuckles can lead to other joint issues.
The term arthritis refers to loss of cartilage where your joint space gets more narrow over time, she explains. Eventually, bone meets bone in that joint, and thats really uncomfortable.
As opposed to actual arthritis, Husni says cracking your knuckles can lead to joint laxity, which can cause painand you might mistake that sensation for arthritis. In other words, thats where this myth comes from.
Now, lets break down what it means to develop joint laxity. Any time you do things to your joints that are outside their normal range of motion , that can cause the joints to loosen, according to Husni. And the more you do it, the looser your joints are likely to become, and the more permanently your joints stay in a relaxed state.
But a word of caution: As you get older, theres a higher chance of arthritis in general, Husni says. So while cracking your knuckles probably doesnt cause arthritis, you could certainly still wind up with it.
Question: What Causes Arthritis
Answer: There are different kinds of arthritis with the major categories being two: The inflammatory arthritides such as the rheumatoid arthritis and the degenerative arthritis best known as osteoarthritis or wear and tear arthritis. The causes for either are not well known and research focuses on elucidating the mechanisms leading to these diseases. In general a genetic predisposition is highly likely for both. For the inflammatory arthritis an unknown exposure to environmental stimuli is considered possible. For the wear and tear arthritis instead, aging and excessive mechanical stress may play a role in accelerating the damage in the joints as it happens in the knees of genetically predisposed older obese people.
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Why People Crack Their Knuckles
Studies have shown that more than 50% of people crack their knuckles regularly, which can be caused by a multitude of reasons. Some of the main reasons people enjoy indulging in hearing these pops and cracks include:
- They enjoy the sound.
- They like the feeling of released tension.
- Its a nervous habit.
- Some people do it to relieve stress.
Is Knuckle Cracking Harmful In Other Ways
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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What Are The Symptoms Of Arthritis
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If youre constantly crack your knuckles, youve probably been warned off doing it by your friends, family, or coworkers. You might have even been told that cracking your knuckles breaks the bones of your dead ancestors. For some reason, many people seem to believe that cracking your knuckles can cause athritis later in life, but does it really?
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A More Permanent Solution Will Lessen The Chances Of Negative Side Effects
Most of the time we crack our joints because it gives us a soothing feeling and a sense of relief. But, the fact that more often than not we do it repeatedly is a surefire indicator that cracking joints is just a temporary solution.
Doctor of Physical Therapy and clinical director ofProfessional Physical Therapy, Amanda Brick, told The Thirty, âwhen you crack your own back you may be targeting an area already under strain or compensating for other segments from abnormal movement patterns.â
Basically, the reason we feel the need to crack a joint is because of tightness, discomfort, or improper movement of the bones and musculature surrounding a joint, but we arenât actually getting to the root of the problem when we self-crack. She goes on to say that healthy stretching is a better option that will still help to relieve pressure.
Overall, we should really leave the cracking to the professionals like chiropractors and physical therapists, who can help us figure out whatâs causing the frequent need to crack joints and give us precise adjustments to feel and move better.
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Why Do My Knuckles Hurt If I Do Not Crack Them
The knuckles can experience stress throughout the day as we use our hands. This can lead to fatigue or tension in the knuckles and the feeling that they need relief.
Cracking your knuckles may create the feeling of relieving tension in the joints. As cracking your knuckles causes the joint to separate for a brief moment, it may feel as though the joint is looser or more mobile.
Joint pain is common and can have many causes. These causes can include more serious underlying conditions, such as arthritis or an injury.
Knuckle Cracking: Annoying And Harmful Or Just Annoying
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling
Knuckle cracking is a common behavior enjoyed by many. It can become a habit or a way to deal with nervous energy some describe it as a way to release tension. For some, its simply an annoying thing that other people do.
If youve ever wondered why stretching the fingers in certain ways causes that familiar noise or whether knuckle cracking is harmful in some way, read on. Despite how common it is, there has been considerable debate regarding where the noise comes from. Fortunately at least for those of us who are curious about it knuckle cracking has been the subject of a fair amount of research.
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Who Is At Risk For Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriasis affects 2-3 percent of the population or approximately 7 million people in the U.S. and up to 30% of these people can develop psoriatic arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis occurs most commonly in adults between the ages of 35 and 55 however, it can develop at any age. Psoriatic arthritis affects men and women equally.
It is possible to develop psoriatic arthritis with only a family history of psoriasis and while less common, psoriatic arthritis can occur before psoriasis appears. Children of parents with psoriasis are three times more likely to have psoriasis and are at greater risk for developing psoriatic arthritis. The most typical age of juvenile onset is 9-11 years of age.
Does Cracking Your Back Or Knuckles Cause Arthritis Is It Bad
March 15, 2017Gary Tho
Your mum or dad might have fed you this myth because they were told it. Maybe they know its bad to crack your own neck or back but just dont know why. Or maybe they were worried your fingers are going to get too loose and fall off. The popping noise you hear isnt bone cracking or rubbing on bone. Its the creation of small gas bubbles in the joint. And although studies show theres no link between the cracking your joints and the stiff, painful joints that arthritis cause, we shouldnt indulge in our addiction anyway. Cracking your fingers, neck or back 5, 10 or 20 times a day, EVERY DAY could make your supporting ligaments lax. Thats a recipe for trouble.
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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Will Cracking Your Fingers Cause Arthritis
The symptoms of arthritis depend on the type that you have and the location. Common forms of arthritis include osteoarthritis, caused by wear and tear on the joints rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own joints and gout, caused by a buildup of uric acid in the body. Symptoms of arthritis include: joint pain and tenderness, inflammation in and around the joints, restricted movement of the joints, and warm, red skin over the affected joint.
Have you heard someone in your life say time and time again, Stop cracking your knuckles, you will get arthritis. Believe it or not, that notion is untrue. There is no scientific evidence that has conclusively shown that cracking your knuckles leads to arthritis. Cracking knuckles is still a bad nervous habit to some, and studies have shown that between 25 and 54 percent of people do it to relieve nerves and tension.
All the joints in our bodies are surrounded by a thick, clear liquid called synovial fluid. When you stretch or bend your fingers to pop the knuckles, you are causing the bones of the joint to pull apart. Therefore, when you crack your knuckles, the popping sound that you hear is due to the formation and buildup of bubbles and gas in the synovial fluid.
To find out if you may be suffering from arthritis, call Spectrum Orthopaedics at our North Canton office at / or use our online appointment request form.