Snap. Crackle. Pop!
Many people wonder why their knuckles and joints pop when stretched. The answer is actually quite simple; the popping sound you hear when you crack your finger knuckles or other joints is due to a something called cavitation. Cavitation occurs when a sudden space is opened within the joint, creating a negative pressure which draws in fluid to fill.
It should also be mentioned that as people age they may find that their joints naturally make popping sounds from time to time when they are rising up from a seated position or in the process of sitting down. The cracking and or popping sound is often linked to tendons snapping over tissues as they adjust their glide path.
Cracking Your Knuckles, may be Annoying, but is Not harmful
For many years people have asserted that cracking your knuckles will make them fat or give you arthritis. Studies, however, have consistently shown that cracking your knuckles does not improve or harm your joints. There is no proven link between arthritis of any kind and cracking your knuckles.
There is one thing that you should be aware of though, if the cracking causes pain, then you may have legitimate cause for concern. An injury to a joint, even a severe sprain, can make you seven times more likely to develop osteoarthritis in later years.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, osteoarthritis affects an estimated 27 million people in the United States alone. Osteoarthritis is associated with damage due to ‘wear and tear’ as well as injuries to joints, bones, tendons and ligaments.
Additionally, some patients who have tendinitis or bursitis say that they do notice more frequent cracking sounds around inflamed, often painful joints. This is due to an underlying abnormality caused by joint damage. The tissues are swollen, which causes interference with their motion that may become audible.
Neither osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis are caused by cracking your knuckles. That is not to say that you should allow other, untrained people to crack your back or your neck. The chance of someone pushing a joint or tissue too far and causing injury is very real. They are more likely to use brute force without any real skill and can easily cause severe damage to your spine.
Bottom line, painlessly cracking your knuckles is not likely to cause any form of lasting damage. If you have questions about old injuries, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, knee, hip, shoulder or spine injuries, joint replacement surgery or would like more information about sports medicine, please call Dr. Jeffrey Carroll at Movement Orthopedics. Dr. Carroll has the advanced orthopedic training and surgical experience you need to get to and stay at, the top of your game–both on the field of glory, and in the game of life. Please call us today at (586) 436-3785 or request an appointment online.