Cracking Knuckles

Cracking Knuckles

Cracking Knuckles

Also known as ‘popping’, cracking fingers is one of the widely observed behaviors across age groups. It occurs when the fingers are bent or twisted at the joints. Apart from the cracking sound on the surface, is there more that we need to know?

Although there are various spots in the human body where this phenomenon occurs, we shall take a close look at knuckles.

Why Does The Sound Occur?

The joints of the human body are filled with a thick and clear fluid called synovial fluid. By bending the fingers, you are forcefully increasing the distance between the joints. This expands the connecting tissue and the gases escape in the form of bubbles producing this sharp ‘pop’ sound. This entire process is called Cavitation.

Does It Harm Me?

There is a school of thought that tried to establish a link between popping and Arthritis. Recent studies conducted by a prominent Medical Journal in the US brought to light interesting facts. Around 215 participants were closely monitored and studied. This population included both habitual knuckle crackers and others. Upon studying the behavior pattern and health issues, it was proven that statistically, there was no link between Arthritis and cracking knuckles.

Oh, So is It Fine If I Continue What I Do?

While there are certain immediate benefits such as greater movement and flexibility of fingers, there is more to the story. Due to continuous cracking, there is a danger of the following,

  • Temporary joint pains. This also occurs when the bending occurs at wrong angles
  • Over the years, the soft tissue may reduce in volume
  • Reduced grip of the hands resulting in difficulty to carry heavy objects

The final verdict is that this behavior is avoidable, though not overtly harmful.

What Do I Do?

This habit has roots in the nervous system and hence it is sub-conscious.

  • Discover your source of anxiety as this is the most common cause of snapping
  • Ask a close friend to remind you not to crack! Social embarrassment is a good cure.
  • Get into an alternate habit like twirling a pencil or flipping a coin.

These simple, yet powerful methods can release you out of the habit.

Reviewed By:

Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)

Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad