Popping or Cracking Your Knuckles and Arthritis
By Rusty Ford
No one really knows why knuckles or other joints make that popping or cracking noise. There are many theories about this but none have been proven. Most everyone who Popped or cracked their knuckles when young heard their moms say that this would give them arthritis when they got older. It may seem to make sense but the small amount of research done on the subject does not back it up.
After a thorough look at the research here is what I found.
My conclusions about popping or cracking your knuckles and arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is caused by long term wear and tear on a joint or trauma to a joint. If you have a joint injury to a knuckle it would be advisable to not try and pop the knuckle while injured. Putting stress on any injury is not a wise thing to do. You would not want to do this with a bone fracture. As a knuckle popper myself I understand that popping your knuckles at times can make them feel better. When you have a knuckle injury popping or cracking the injured knuckle will in no way help with its healing.
Since there are a couple of studies that show that there is an increase in tendon damage around knuckles with those who pop or crack them, I would suggest that you not get to aggressive with the process. Bending a joint too far out of place trying to get it to pop has the potential of damaging tissue around it.
And last, for Pete's sake do not do it just to aggravate your mother. Poor old she has enough stress in her life.
Castellanos J, Axelrod D. Effect of habitual knuckle cracking on hand function. Ann Rheum Dis . 1990;49:308-309.
Swezey RL, Swezey SE. The consequences of habitual knuckle cracking. West J Med . 1975;122:377-379. Available at: http://www.pubmedcentral.gov/ . Accessed July 11, 2006
Watson P, Hamilton A, Mollan R. Habitual joint cracking and radiological damage. Br Med J . 1989;299:1566.
Watson P Kernohan WG, Mollan RA. A study of the cracking sounds from the metacarpophalangeal joint. Proc Inst Mech Eng . 1989;203:109-118. 3/17/2011
DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/: Deweber K, Olszewski M, Ortolano R. Knuckle cracking and hand osteoarthritis. J Am Board Fam Med. 2011;24(2):169-174.
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