Can Cracking Your Knuckles Lead to Arthritis?

You were probably cautioned as a child not to crack your knuckles because it would cause arthritis… and if you are a parent, you probably tell your children the same thing, but is there any truth to this warning?

ThinkstockPhotos-57226144Our hands contain many joints where our bones meet. Surrounding those joints are capsules filled with synovial fluid, a natural lubricant produced by our bodies. When we push, pull, or crack our fingers or knuckles we are actually stretching those capsules, causing the gasses that were dissolved in the fluid to release and equalize the pressure in the joints – kind of like popping a cork on a bottle of champagne. This release results in the common “popping” sound associated with cracking your knuckles.
The act of knuckle or finger cracking provides a momentary sense of relief as the joints are stretched. It takes our bodies about 30 minutes to re-build the synovial fluid in our joints.

The good news is that while the sound of knuckles cracking is annoying to hear, it actually does not contribute to the development of arthritis. The bad news is there are other consequences. In recent studies, habitual knuckle crackers were found to have reduced hand functionality and weaker grip strength than those who did not crack their knuckles.

With this newfound information, mothers and fathers everywhere can now change their parental warning to, “Stop cracking your knuckles or you will have a weak handshake!”

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Facts and Benefits of Acupuncture

acupuncture 115527170The practice of acupuncture originated in China and can be traced as far back as 2,500 years ago. According to traditional Chinese medicine, disease and illness occurs when the energy (Chi) which flows throughout the body along pathways (meridians) is blocked or interrupted.  Inserting very thin needles into the skin at strategic points on the body will unblock that energy, allowing it to flow freely and restore balance.

Acupuncture is often used as a complementary treatment with traditional western medicine. It is commonly known to help relieve pain and nausea; however, the World Health Organization (WHO) has found that acupuncture is effective in providing therapeutic treatment for an estimated 28 health conditions.

Some of the conditions that can benefit from acupuncture treatments are:

  • Depression
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Acute and chronic gastritis
  • Adverse reactions to chemotherapy
  • Stroke
  • Renal colic

As with any form of medical treatment there are risks associated with acupuncture.  This treatment can be dangerous for patients who are taking blood thinners or have bleeding disorders. If needles are unsterilized you may run the risk of contracting an infection.  It is possible, although very rare for needles to break and cause damage to internal organs or  needles to be inserted too deeply into the upper back or chest causing lungs to collapse. It is advised that you seek treatment from a licensed acupuncturist as this will ensure that required guidelines are being followed.

Generally speaking acupuncture is safe and can be combined as a method of treatment with traditional medicine. Speak with your physician to further discuss the safety of acupuncture and how it can potentially benefit your health.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Smoking and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Smoking is a bad habit for anyone, but for those with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), it is a habit that is especially dangerous.

ThinkstockPhotos-78770898Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and loss of function in the joints. It occurs when your immune system, the system that protects your body from outside harm, mistakenly starts attacking healthy tissue. If not managed properly, over time, RA can cause joint damage—and can even result in permanent joint destruction.

Unlike the more common osteoarthritis, RA is not associated with factors such as aging, obesity, or injury, but lifestyle choices, such as smoking, not only increase your odds of developing the disease but also make the condition worse for those who already have it. In addition, smoking combined with RA can lead to even greater problems, such as heart disease.

Recent studies indicate that tobacco is highly associated with and the probable cause of RA in many instances and is a leading factor when the condition worsens. According to one study, Smokers with a specific gene makeup are 50% more likely to develop RA than those who do not smoke, and those who get it, usually develop a more serious form of the disease.

Smoking also affects how well those who develop RA respond to treatments. In general, smokers are less likely to achieve remission and have worse outcomes because tobacco reduces the effectiveness of medications used to treat swelling and reduce pain for rheumatoid arthritis patients.

Having rheumatoid arthritis, in and of itself, it’s a risk factor for developing heart disease. In fact, over the last ten years, the leading cause of death for people with RA is cardiovascular disease. Smoking, combined with RA raises your risk of developing heart disease to a much higher level.

Quitting smoking can go a long way toward rheumatoid arthritis prevention. If you’re at risk for developing RA or if you already have it, you don’t want to light up, and if you’re already smoking, you want to quit.

May is arthritis awareness month. If you or a loved one either has or is at risk of developing arthritis, please speak to your doctor immediately about treatment options. To make an appointment at Jamaica Hospitals’ Ambulatory Care Center, please call 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.