Some people twirl their hair, some people chew their fingernails and some people crack their joints. Why people crack their joints is unknown. Most likely, people crack their joints out of habit. Perhaps people are nervous about something or maybe people just like to hear the sound of their fingers and back crunching. Whatever the reason is, there is one-thing knuckle crackers can all relate to. All knuckle crackers have been told they are on a fast track to arthritis. Before we make assumptions, let’s understand some background info and figure out what joints can crack and what a joint-crack even is.
What Joints Can Crack?
The types of joints that pop or crack are the typical joints called the synovial joints. The synovial joint is the most common type of joint in the human body and it is simply a joint that allows for movement. For example your shoulder is a ball and socket joint and your knee is considered to be a hinge joint. However, they are both considered synovial joints. All synovial joints are covered with a think layer of cartilage and they all contain a lubricant inside the joint called synovial fluid. In your knee, for example, there is about a teaspoon of synovial fluid. A lot of people that experience knee pain, for example, are people who are lacking cartilage or fluid in their joint from overuse or wear and tear. However, is this a result of cracking your joints? Let’s take a look.
Why do Joints Crack?
We know how to crack our joints and we’ve heard that it’s bad for us. However, what’s really taking place inside your joint to get the POP sound. People come up with all sorts of myths about what causes the actual sounds. Some say it’s pulling your bones out of the joint. Some people say it’s your bones snapping against each other… Most people don’t understand what’s really taking place and I can see why. The actual reason your joints make a crack is a little far-fetched but the statements are backed by evidence.
According to FOXNEWS.com and many, many other online sources,
“When you push or pull your fingers to crack them, what you’re really doing is stretching the capsule that surrounds the joint. That decreases the pressure inside the capsule, causing gasses that were dissolved in the synovial fluid (such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and oxygen) to release into the empty space to equalize the pressure. Like pulling a cork from a bottle of bubbly, that release is what makes your knuckles pop.”
I know… It sounds insane. We’re comparing your cracking joints to a bottle of champagne, but it’s the truth. However, the questions still linger.
Is cracking your joints bad for you? Does cracking your joints cause arthritis? Does cracking your joints cause inflammation etc?
Does Cracking Your Knuckles Cause Arthritis?
Let’s finally dive into this question. Instead of taking my advice for this topical debate, let’s look at what WebMD has to say. If you’ve never heard of WebMD, it’s one of the most influential websites for health news, tips and advice. When millions of people have a question regarding health, disease, medicine etc. they turn to web md for answers.
Let’s look at a conversation between a patient and Dimitrios Pappas, MD, (assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons) on WebMd.com,
“Q: My 10-year-old son cracks his knuckles. Is it true that it causes arthritis?
A: Ten-year-old boys love to make noises with their body, so it’s not surprising your son is intrigued with the sound of a good knuckle pop. But you can put your fears aside — the ideas that knuckle cracking leads to arthritis is FALSE.
“There have been a few studies on this,” Pappas says. “None of them shows any change in the occurrence of arthritis between people who habitually crack their knuckles and those who do not.”
But here’s something cool you can tell your son: The “pop” that comes when you compress your knuckles isn’t from bone snapping on bone. It happens because, as the bones are stretched apart, a gas bubble forms and then pops.”
In conclusion, if you have joint pain or you have arthritis in your hand, knee, hips, back etc. you cannot blame your addiction to cracking your joints. Afterall there are millions and millions of people who have been cracking their knuckles for their entire lives. If cracking your joints put people on the fast tract to arthritis, wouldn’t everyone be suffering from arthritis?
The truth is that arthritis is degeneration of the joint cartilage caused by years of wear and tear. Sports injuries that injure your knees cause arthritis. Years of overusing your knees cause arthritis. Cracking your knee joint just causes a gas bubble to pop. If you have arthritis you should avoid joint replacement surgery and give the Stem cell Professionals a call today.
- Aleisha Fetters Published March 13, 2014, Health myth: Is cracking your knuckles really bad for you? URL: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/03/13/health-myth-is-cracking-your-knuckles-really-bad-for/
Davis, Susan, Published August 12, 2011, Does Knuckle Cracking Cause Arthritis? URL: http://www.webmd.com/arthritis/features/does-knuckle-cracking-cause-arthritis