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!”

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