No evidence knuckle-cracking causes arthritis

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the available evidence suggests there are few long-term side effects to worry about.

There are many reasons why people crack or pop their knuckles. Some do it as an anxious tic, others do it out of restlessness, still others do it to relieve pressure and stress and then some, especially children, do it. that’s just because it annoys other people.

Many of us first heard as children, and then continued to hear as adults, that cracking knuckles leads to arthritis as you get older. Is that warning correct? That’s what VERIFICATION readers Lindsay wanted to know.


Does cracking knuckles lead to arthritis?



This is wrong.

No, cracking the knuckles will not lead to arthritis.


Harvard Health explains that knuckle cracking increases the space between your knuckles, causing air bubbles in the fluid between your joints to burst. That’s what causes the sound we associate with cracking or popping.

The reason why it takes a while—usually about 20 minutes—before you can crack the same joint again is because it takes a while for air bubbles to build up back in the joint.

Decades of research have found no evidence that cracking knuckles causes arthritis. Studies have also not found any evidence that knuckle cracking is beneficial. The practice did not affect the development of arthritis.

The two forms of arthritis that people are most familiar with are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, osteoarthritis is a disease of the joints in which damage weakens the bones in the joints, degeneration of the connective tissue in the joints, and damage to the joint linings. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which an overactive immune system attacks healthy tissue in the joints.

It’s commonly believed that cracking your knuckles will gradually wear down your joints to the point where they’re damaged, causing osteoarthritis.

But this is not true. Your genetics play the biggest role in determining whether you will develop osteoarthritis in the future, which usually doesn’t develop in people until they’re in their 40s or older, Methodist Hospital Houston said.

“The majority of arthritis patients have a genetic predisposition to the disease,” said John Fackler, an orthopedic and sports medicine physician in a Houston Methodist blog post. ligaments or meniscus, putting you at a higher risk of developing arthritis as you age.”

Many health professionals agree that cracking knuckles will not increase the risk of developing arthritis, including Tufts Medical Center, Harvard Health, Cleveland Clinic, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and University Arkansas Medical Science.

Although, if you already have osteoarthritis, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences adds that repeatedly cracking your knuckles can worsen symptoms. And Cedars-Sinai Medical Center adds that twisting and pressing on joints can also worsen other pre-existing conditions, such as trauma or gout.

There is less consensus on what other effects chronic knuckle cracking can have on your hands besides arthritis.

The Cleveland Clinic explains that while a study from the 1990s showed weaker grip strength and more hand swelling in people who frequently cracked knuckles, a study from 2017 found no difference. difference in grip strength between knuckle-crackers and non-knuckle-crackers.

“Although the available research on knuckle cracking is limited, the available evidence tells us that there are few if any long-term side effects to worry about,” says the Cleveland Clinic.

Houston Methodist Hospital notes that in the short term, cracking the knuckles can cause temporary swelling of the knuckles. Harvard Health and the Cleveland Clinic also note that improper knuckles — pulling or pressing too hard or bending your fingers in the wrong direction — can cause connective tissue injury in the joint or dislocation of the finger, and other injuries. That injury can happen sometimes. cause long-term damage to your joints. Prolonged swelling is a good sign that you may have such an injury.

“You’ll quickly know if you make a mistake because it hurts, and cracking your knuckles isn’t supposed to hurt,” says the Cleveland Clinic.

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