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Does Cracking Your Knuckles Cause Arthritis?

In order to answer this question, we first need to talk about arthritis. It's the name for a group of conditions where there is damage caused to the joints. Here are some examples:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are autoimmune diseases in which the body is attacking itself.
  • Septic arthritis is caused by joint infection.
  • Gouty arthritis is caused when uric acid crystals get deposited in the joints, which causes inflammation.
  • The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis (also known as degenerative joint disease), occurs after an injury or infection in the joint, or simply as a result of aging.

Hmm, I see that of these 4 examples, none of them are caused by popping your joints.

Now let's talk about knuckle cracking. A joint is an area where 2 or more bones meet. This area is surrounded by joint fluid that protects the bones from rubbing against each other. When you "crack" or "pop" your knuckles or other joints, you are NOT grinding your bones together. Carbon dioxide is dissolved in that joint fluid. The sound you hear is a result of the high pressure being released, when the gas comes out and forms a bubble. That release of pressure allows a temporary increase in the joint's range of motion, which is why it feels so good. The reason you can't re-crack your knuckles immediately after is because it takes a little time for the gas to get re-dissolved back into the joint fluid.

There is no evidence that cracking your joints causes arthritis, or any other permanent damage - it just offers relief.

So the next time you crack your knuckles and someone says "Stop! You're going to get arthritis!," just smile and politely explain that you're just releasing the pressure of your joint fluid.


Join The Conversation
wednesday816 wednesday816 8 years
Thanks! Ever since I heard someone say that it could cause arthritis I started popping my fingers more but now I don't have to worry! :)
us40 us40 9 years
haha - i have JRA and i asked my rumy if cracking knuckles does any thing and he said if any thing its good
vitrolicbump vitrolicbump 10 years
Found it! And I haven't been on a message board in years so I have to learn all this HTML stuff again...will someone teach me, please?
vitrolicbump vitrolicbump 10 years
I've cracked my fingers without knowing it, even at work (and I've been in customer service) and people tell me they hate it. It doesn't faze me. lol Katiedid, you have to be careful about cracking parts like your neck. One wrong crack and you can really hurt yourself. Even chiropractors aren't supposed to do neck adjustments. They could paralyze, cause stroke, or even kill patients. And as soon as I find the article I was reading the other day, I'll site it. My connection has been acting funky. :/
katiedid0985 katiedid0985 10 years
Thank goodness! I'm forever cracking my knuckles, shoulder, neck, back... it drives people around me crazy, but at least I'm not hurting myself!
Chaoticfury Chaoticfury 10 years
I'm happy to hear this.
Lavinie Lavinie 10 years
growing up i heard that cracking your knuckles made them bigger... has anyone else heard this? a bio teacher back in high school said this as well and his knuckles were big and it seemed like he couldn't get this one ring off...
smarler smarler 10 years
Thanks Fit!
AucuneRancune AucuneRancune 10 years
I found this out a couple years ago and boy was it a relief. I've been cracking my knuckles since about age 10 and my father always scolded me with the threat of arthritis. Now I know - it's just unpleasant to listen to!
Tech Tech 10 years
I've always wondered if this was true or not. Thanks fit.
jennifer76 jennifer76 10 years
Oh this is GREAT news! :D
cravinsugar cravinsugar 10 years
haha! I thought this was the case! Speaking of which, I need to pop my knucles now! haha. So, fit, is there a way to tell which type of arthritis you have? I have it in a couple of fingers and one of my big toes, but these are areas i don't recall having ever hurt.
lady-T lady-T 10 years
im nervous too rodellee..i've been trying to stop for years...thanks fitsugar! :)
rodellee rodellee 10 years
I am glad to know this! I am constantly cracking my fingers and always get paranoid I will have arthritis before I'm 35.
SU3 SU3 10 years
It's very addicting though!
DesignRchic DesignRchic 10 years
Guilty :OOPS:
krisua krisua 10 years
:D thank you, I will!
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