Cracking Your Knuckles
What happens when you crack your knuckles? It may be background noise, or it may be like nails on a chalkboard, but there is nothing quite like hearing the sound of someone cracking their knuckles.
As a youngster, I was a chronic knuckle cracker. My folks continually grumbled at me about it. “It’s not healthy for you” and “you’ll acquire arthritis,” they would remark.
But I couldn’t resist. It felt nice. I grew up believing this was a horrible behavior. But I never fully grasped what exactly happened when you crack your knuckles.
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What Are The Knuckles?
“Knuckle” is a frequent phrase to describe joints in the hands and fingers. A frequent joint that individuals tend to break is the Metacarpophalangeal joint or MCP. Some folks break every joint in their fingers.
There are numerous joints in the hands and fingers. The bones of the joints are joined by ligaments that facilitate mobility.
A joint capsule also links the joints. The capsule is a closed area between the joint’s surfaces that contain a lubricant called synovial fluid.
The lubricant enables for smooth mobility when the joint moves during exercise. It also includes nutrients to nourish the surfaces of the joint.
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What Happens When You Crack Your Knuckles?
The basic explanation is that cracking your knuckles generates a response within the joint. The joint capsule holds the lubrication for the joint.
The capsule has a closed construction that does not let the lubricant out. The lubricant in the capsule is a thick and viscose substance.
As it travels within the capsule, it may build up small bubbles of nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide gases.
When you swiftly pull, stretch, or flex a joint in the fingers, the joint capsule strains, and those bubbles might rupture. This is what generates the “cracking” sound.
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Does Cracking Your Knuckles Cause Arthritis?
There have been various research undertaken to ascertain if cracking your knuckles promotes arthritis.
Many of the research employed ultrasonic imaging and MRIs to establish the difference in joints’ health in the hand between people who crack their knuckles and those who do not.
Overwhelmingly, studies demonstrate no substantial difference in the incidence of osteoarthritis between knuckle crackers and non-knuckle crackers. So the answer is NO, cracking your knuckles does not create arthritis.