Does Cracking Your Joints Cause Arthritis?
Is cracking your knuckles bad? If you are one to habitually ‘crack’ your knuckles or other joints, you might have heard it quite clear that doing this could lead to arthritis.
Well, what does science have to say about this?
In this article, we will be answering this question once and for all, we will also tell you the latest research available to back up our answer. We will also go further to tell you what causes the sounds when you crack your joints, why you should not get used to the habit, and how to decrease your frequency of knuckle cracking.
Cracking Joints Does Not Cause Arthritis
While there are over 100 types of arthritis, the most common one is osteoarthritis, which happens when the cartilages that cover the bones in a joint become worn out and degraded. This then leads to serious joint pain, swelling, and stiffness.
There are many reasons why a person may develop osteoarthritis, but cracking your knuckles or other joints isn’t one of them.
According to several studies done by scientists, there is no link between how often you crack your joints and the onset of arthritis.
In fact, one study stands out. Dr. Donald Unger took things a bit personal and to the extreme when to prove that there is no relationship between knuckle cracking and arthritis. He decided to crack the knuckles on his left hand at least twice a day while avoiding it on his right hand. He did this for 50 years, and the result clearly showed that both hands were no different- there was no sign of arthritis in both hands. It is estimated that he cracked the knuckles on his left hand a staggering 36,500 times.
After this, more studies have proven that those who crack their knuckles do not have a disadvantage when it comes to the functionality of their hands.
So What Then Causes Osteoarthritis?
There are several things that increase the risk of a person getting osteoarthritis.
The older a person is, the more likely they are to come down with osteoarthritis. It particularly affects people who are older than 65 years.
If a person’s parents or grandparents have osteoarthritis, there is an increased chance that the person will get this disease.
Osteoarthritis is more common in people who are overweight or obese. This is because of the increased pressure on their joints, especially weight-bearing ones like the hips and knees. This pressure leads to a faster breakdown in the components of the joint, causing the development of osteoarthritis.
4. Joint injuries:
When a joint is repeatedly injured, perhaps from playing intense professional sport, or a job that requires excessive use of a particular joint, there is a risk that osteoarthritis may be seen in that joint after a while.
This condition can be very uncomfortable and often requires several hospital visits, long-term pain medications, and surgical procedures like joint replacement.
However, things can be done to decrease the symptoms and increase the quality of life, like losing weight, use of protective home equipment (such as home lifts), grab bars, and shower benches.
Are There Any Disadvantages Of Cracking My Joints?
Now that it is clear that joint cracking doesn’t lead to arthritis, should you then crack your joints without a care?
Well, the answer is you probably shouldn’t do it excessively. This habit has been linked with some conditions like:
- Decreased hand grip strength
- Inflammation of the hands
While this is not completely agreed on by scientists, you might want to tread cautiously when cracking your joints, don’t do it excessively.
What Makes The Popping Sound When I Crack My Joints?
Many people that crack their joints find this sound very satisfying, and it is usually accompanied by a feeling of relief. While to observers or people around them, it can be quite annoying.
This sound is not caused by some damage to the bone or tear of some cartilage, rather it is made by the bursting of gas bubbles in the joint.
Dissolved gases in the synovial fluid (the fluid that lubricates a joint) give up a popping sound when they are suddenly released by the stretching of the joint.
This could explain why it takes a while for you to be able to re-crack a particular joint.
How To Stop Cracking Your Knuckles Too Often
If you think you’re becoming obsessed with knuckle-cracking, you can consider trying any of these tips to help you reduce how often you do it:
- Distract yourself whenever you feel like doing it, try to engage in some other activity.
- Keep your hands busy.
- Carry a lotion in your pocket or purse and apply it each time you feel like cracking your knuckles, it will even help your hand more moisturized.