Is Cracking Your Knuckles Healthy?

Just sitting there and you suddenly realize that you just popped your knuckles. Well you are not alone. Majority of people on the planet, actually 54 percent do the same.

There are many reasons to why someone pops their knuckles. Many people enjoy the sound it makes. Others might do it because they think doing so relieves tension and increase mobility of their fingers, though there is no evidence that it is true.

Some people just do it because they are nervous, just like playing with your hair or rubbing your hands together. They just need to occupy their hands during a stressful time. Others might just develop a habit where they cannot do without cracking their knuckles at least five times a day.

Though annoying to some, cracking your knuckles is neither healthy nor unhealthy. It does not cause arthritis or any other health issue that the scientific community knows about. People say that it might distort the shape of your fingers, but that is not true either.

However, it is important to remember that cracking your knuckles should never be painful. If it is, or it is causing some other issue like swelling or shape change, than something else is going on and you might not be perfectly healthy. They symptoms might be because a person has an underlying condition like gout or arthritis.

Although it is not bad for you, a person who is in habit of it might cause their finger to fall out of the joint after pulling very hard at it. They can also injure the ligaments around the joint.

A person who has the compulsive desire to pop their knuckles too much might also annoy or offend other people. It can also be very difficult to stop. Some ways that can help you break this habit can be:

  • Addressing the underlying mental compulsion that cause you to do it.
  • Finding other ways to relieve stress like mediation, exercise, or deep breathing
  • Using a squeeze ball or rubber band on your wrist to use instead of popping your knuckles
  • Training your brain to realize it when you are unconsciously doing it
  • Understanding why you like the sound of it and why you need to hear it

The Sound

Scientific community does not fully understand why there is ‘pop’ when you crack your knuckles. In a recent study, scientists observed people’s hand under and MRI, when they popped their knuckles. They saw that when the joint was pulled apart quickly, a cavity formed due to negative pressure. They concluded that the sound was made by the formation of this cavity. Another study showed that the sound came because of the partial collapse of the cavity.

A review of studies on the other hand also found out that this cavity takes at least 20 minutes to collapse after it is formed. This might be the reason that why you cannot again crack your knuckles for some time after you have done so the first time.

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