Have you ever laced your fingers together, turned your palms away from you and bent it back? If yes, you know exactly what knuckle popping sounds like. The “crack’’ sound you hear is caused when bubbles burst in the fluid surrounding the joint.
Cracking your knuckles can have therapeutic benefits. When you crack the joints, you are pulling the bones connected to the joints away from each other. This stimulates your tendons, relaxes your muscles and loosens your joints. Chiropractors crack the spinal joints when you experience pain in your back, but you can crack your knuckles, toes, knees, neck, wrists, jaws, hips and shoulders on your own.
How it works:
Joints are the meeting points of two different bones; these are held together by connective tissues and ligaments. The joints in our body are surrounded by synovial fluid and when you stretch your finger to pop the knuckle, it causes the bones to pull apart and the connective tissue that surrounds the joint area is stretched. By stretching this tissue, you increase its volume. With an increase in volume comes a decrease in pressure. When the pressure of the fluid drops, gasses in the fluid becomes less soluble causing bubbles to form. This process is called cavitation. When joints are stretched far enough, the pressure in the tissue drops causing these bubbles to burst and this cause the “pop” sound we then hear. It takes about 25 to 30 minutes for the gas to dissolve into the join fluid again and therefor you will not be able to crack your knuckles during this time.
Does cracking your knuckles cause Arthritis?
Rumor has it that cracking your knuckles causes Arthritis, but this is not true. There is however other harms associated with this habit. If you have the bad habit of cracking your knuckles quite often, you may be at risk of damage to the soft tissue, damage to the joint capsule and a decrease in grip strength.
Kicking the habit:
Before any negative side effects happen, you need to kick the habit of cracking your knuckles.
- Keep your hands busy: Give your hands something else to do. Move a coin or pencil over, through and around the fingers of one hand.
- Use a rubber band: Put a rubber band around your wrist and when you are about to crack your knuckles, pull the rubber band away from your wrist and let it snap back on your skin. Your knuckle cracking will then be associated with pain helping you to kick the habit.
- Hand lotion: When you are about to crack your knuckles, rubbing some lotion on your hands will help to keep your hands busy and leaving them soft and moisturized.
Knuckle cracking is a common habit which anyone can develop. Even though you may enjoy the sensation it brings, it can drive the people around you crazy and lead to some unwanted side effects. The best thing to do is to kick your knuckle cracking habit before any negative side effects develop.