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Is It Okay to Crack Your Knuckles?

Can I Crack My Knuckles?

There is good news for knuckle-crackers. According to the few medical studies conducted on the habit, there is no proven connection between knuckle-cracking and arthritis. In other words, you may continue to crack your knuckles without penalty for years to come, as you are not causing any permanent damage to your joints.

When you crack your knuckles, the popping sound you hear is a gas bubble escaping from between your knuckle joints. The knuckle’s bones, ligaments and tendons are surrounded by a thick liquid called synovial fluid. Over time, this fluid becomes filled with tiny gas bubbles. When you crack your knuckles, the tendons and ligaments become stretched out and the bones that create the knuckle separate slightly. When the fluid tries to fill this gap, the trapped gas bubbles combine to form one large bubble. This bubble pops in order to make room for the sudden rush of synovial fluid into a capsule between the knuckle joints. This popping is similar to what happens when you open a can of soda. When you successfully crack your knuckles, the popping sound is soon followed by a satisfying stretch of the joint and increased mobility. After about half an hour, there should be enough gas built up to crack your knuckles again. This gaseous build-up is not harmful to the body if it is not released through knuckle cracking, however.

Although medical studies haven’t shown a link between knuckle-cracking and arthritis, there has been some evidence that EXCESSIVE knuckle-cracking could eventually cause swelling around the joints or a loss of grip strength.

This “cracking” that occurs is the same process that happens when you get your spine adjusted. The compressed joints from being subluxated create a lot of pressure and build up of gas in the joint spaces. Adjustments get the joints moving and takes the pressure off the joint spaces. This may create a popping sound during the adjustment, although it may not always happen with each adjustment. Even though getting adjusted is great for your spine, leave it to your licensed chiropractor. People often try to “crack” their own neck or back, which is not recommended, because you could be doing it incorrectly and putting MORE pressure on the nerve if you move it in the wrong direction.

If you are getting that feeling of having to “pop” or “crack” your neck or back, it’s time for an adjustment.



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