Does Popping Your Fingers Give You Arthritis - ArthritisDaily.net (2022)

What Causes The Pop

Does Knuckle Cracking Cause Arthritis?

The reason the joint makes a popping or cracking sound when pulled is still not completely understood. For a long time, many people attributed the noise to nitrogen bubbles either forming or collapsing in the joint fluid. Others thought it came from movement of the ligaments around the knuckle.

In a 2015 study , researchers watched knuckles while they were cracked using an MRI. They found that a cavity formed due to the negative pressure created when the joint was pulled apart quickly. They determined that the sound was made by formation of the cavity. However, this couldnt explain the loudness of the sound.

A 2018 study suggested that the sound was actually caused by the partial collapse of the cavity. A review of studies noted that it takes 20 minutes for the cavity to fully collapse so a new cavity could be formed. This may be why after youve cracked your knuckles, youre not able to do it again right away.

So I Can Crack My Knuckles Freely There’s No Risk Of Arthritis

There are several types of arthritis, but knuckle-cracking is most commonly associated with osteoarthritis. In simple terms, “Osteoarthritis is a disease where the articular cartilage, located at the end of the bone on each joint, starts to break down and flake off,” causing pain, stiffness and swelling over time, Dr. Fackler explains.

“Osteoarthritis is age- and genetic-related…and people don’t get significant osteoarthritis until they’re in their 40s, 50s or older,” Dr. Fackler says. “The vast majority of arthritis patients have a genetic predisposition to the disease. However, if you have an injury when you’re young or tear a ligament or meniscus, that puts you at higher risk for arthritis when you get older.”

But Wait There’s More Here’s What You Shouldn’t Crack

Dr. Fackler advises avoiding popping the neck, as it can cause inflammation around the nerves and lead to more serious injuries long-term. “I encourage people not to habitually pop their necks, especially kids.”

So, as it turns out, you can crack your knuckles, limitlessly, without the consequences of arthritis. Just don’t be too caught off guard if your rings fit a little tighter after a knuckle-cracking session. Cracking knuckles can cause temporary swelling or a subtle increase in the size of your hands, but is ultimately harmless. “There are no long-term studies that show knuckle-cracking causes any damage,” Dr. Fackler says. Until then, “When it comes to your fingers, don’t even worry about it.”

Snap, crackle and pop away.

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Knuckle Cracking: Probably Safe

Doctors have debated for decades about why joints make that popping sound. The prevailing theory used to be that it was the sound of a bubble bursting in the synovial fluid that surrounds the joints, but current research suggests it is actually the creation of a cavity, or negative space, in the fluid that leads to the noise.

Quick Dose: Can You Get Arthritis From Cracking Your Knuckles

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If a friend told you cracking your knuckles causes arthritis, they might have just been searching for a nice way to get you to stop the habit.

The truth is, there is no connection between cracking your knuckles and arthritis or any other long-term health problem.

When you crack your knuckles, the popping noises, or crepitus, result from gas bubbles in the fluid that helps lubricate your joints. The bubbles pop when you pull the bones apart, either by stretching the fingers or bending them backward. It releases some endorphins that help reduce pain, but otherwise, its thought to be a harmless habit that doesnt signal any type of health problem.

Eric M. Ruderman, MD, professor of medicine, associate chief, clinical affairs, Division of Rheumatology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Clinical Practice Director, Rheumatology, Northwestern Medical Group

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Hand Specialists In The Chesapeake Region

Cracking your fingers may bring relief, but if you are suffering from chronic pain in your fingers, wrists, elbow, or shoulder, you should consider seeing a specialist. A hand surgeon is the best person to see when it comes to diagnosing and treating conditions affecting those areas.

Our board-certified hand surgeons at Greater Chesapeake Hand to Shoulder have locations across Maryland, we are ready to help you. Call our main office number today at 296-6232 to schedule a consultation with our physicians, or request an appointment online at one of our convenient locations. We look forward to serving you and helping you live well.

Tendons Snapping Over Joints

Tendons keep muscles attached to bones, while ligaments connect bones to other bones. Ligaments can make popping noises when they tighten while the joint is moving. Tendons can make a popping noise when they move out of place and snap back into position as the joint moves.

People often hear these noises in their knee and ankle joints when they stand up from sitting or while walking up or down the stairs.

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Other Habits Associated With Knuckle Cracking

One research study of 300 people reported that people who cracked their knuckles were more likely to have manual labor jobs and smoke.7

Manual labor can be a risk factor for osteoarthritis. If you have a manual labor job, finding ways to reduce daily stress on your joints may be more important than quitting knuckle cracking to lower your risk of arthritis.

Likewise, quitting smoking or other nicotine use can reduce your risk of serious medical problems, including lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease .

When To See A Doctor

Does cracking your knuckes cause Arthritis?

Cracking your knuckles doesnt cause harm, so it shouldnt be painful, cause swelling, or change the shape of the joint. These are signs that something is wrong, and you should be evaluated by your doctor.

Injuring your finger by pulling very forcefully or moving it in the wrong direction is usually very painful. Your finger may look crooked or start to swell. If this happens, you should see your doctor right away.

If you notice your joints are painful or swollen while cracking your knuckles, its likely due to an underlying condition and should be evaluated by your doctor.

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A More Permanent Solution Will Lessen The Chances Of Negative Side Effects

Most of the time we crack our joints because it gives us a soothing feeling and a sense of relief. But, the fact that more often than not we do it repeatedly is a surefire indicator that cracking joints is just a temporary solution.

Doctor of Physical Therapy and clinical director ofProfessional Physical Therapy, Amanda Brick, told The Thirty, “when you crack your own back you may be targeting an area already under strain or compensating for other segments from abnormal movement patterns.”

Basically, the reason we feel the need to crack a joint is because of tightness, discomfort, or improper movement of the bones and musculature surrounding a joint, but we aren’t actually getting to the root of the problem when we self-crack. She goes on to say that healthy stretching is a better option that will still help to relieve pressure.

Overall, we should really leave the cracking to the professionals like chiropractors and physical therapists, who can help us figure out what’s causing the frequent need to crack joints and give us precise adjustments to feel and move better.

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Does Cracking Your Back Or Knuckles Cause Arthritis Is It Bad

March 15, 2017Gary Tho

Your mum or dad might have fed you this myth because they were told it. Maybe they know it’s bad to crack your own neck or back – but just don’t know why. Or maybe they were worried your fingers are going to get too loose and fall off. The popping noise you hear isnt bone cracking or rubbing on bone. Its the creation of small gas bubbles in the joint. And although studies show there’s no link between the cracking your joints and the stiff, painful joints that arthritis cause, we shouldn’t indulge in our addiction anyway. Cracking your fingers, neck or back 5, 10 or 20 times a day, EVERY DAY could make your supporting ligaments lax. That’s a recipe for trouble.

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Is Cracking Your Fingers Bad For You

January 11, 2019 By Crystal Vera

Many people crack their knuckles, toes, back, and especially their fingers. The snapping, popping sound can cause those within earshot to recoil.

Perhaps you have heard that cracking your fingers can lead to arthritis, or that your fingers will become permanently disfigured. Maybe you were told as a child that cracking your fingers would stunt their growth.

So when you hear someone cracking their fingers or knuckles, you may admonish the person for doing irreparable damage to their joints. But is cracking your fingers and other joints really all that bad? The answer may surprise you.

If Theres Pain See Your Doctor

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Although neck, back or knuckle cracking is probably harmless, the exception is if it causes pain. In that case, it could be a problem with the structure of the joint or surrounding areas, such as torn cartilage or damaged ligaments. If you already have arthritis or another issue, such as tendonitis, that could also be the cause of pain with cracking. Talk to your doctor to address the underlying problem, if you experience an uncomfortable feeling with joint cracking.

Are you experiencing joint problems? Our orthopaedic specialists at Keck Medicine can help. If you are in the Los Angeles area, request an appointment or call USC-CARE .

Also Check: How To Reduce Arthritis Swelling In Fingers

Taking Care Of Your Joints

The best thing you can do is to avoid stress on your hands and pay special attention to protecting the joints that cause any problem. While it will never be possible to avoid painful activities completely, you can still make minor changes to keep pain under control. You may want to try some exercises to keep your hands strong and young. For instance:

1. Open and Close

Keeping your fingers together, hold your hands up in the air and then spread your fingers apart as gently as possible. Hold this posture for a few seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat the same 10 times.

2. Fist Flex

Start with your hands in an upright position and your fingers apart. Slowly close your fingers together and make a fist but keep your thumb on the outside. Hold this position for a few seconds and then open your fingers once again. Keep in mind that you should never clench or squeeze your fist. Repeat 5-10 times for good effects.

3. Thumb Circles

Keep your hands in the “thumbs-up” position and then slowly rotate your thumb in circle. Change directions after a few seconds.

4. Tip Touch

With your hands in an upright position, spread your fingers apart. Starting from your little finger, slowly touch your thumb with the tip of every finger. Open your hand back up after touching one finger and then start again.

5. Wrist Rotate and Flex

What Are The Symptoms Of Arthritis

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If youre constantly crack your knuckles, youve probably been warned off doing it by your friends, family, or coworkers. You might have even been told that cracking your knuckles breaks the bones of your dead ancestors. For some reason, many people seem to believe that cracking your knuckles can cause athritis later in life, but does it really?

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Does It Cause Arthritis

It’s unlikely that joint cracking is a significant cause of arthritis. Joint cracking is usually painless, and so long as it does not cause pain, most doctors agree that you are unlikely to be doing any harm. There are some conditions that can cause joint cracking that need to be addressed, but these tend to cause symptoms of pain.

If you have joint cracking that causes pain, you should be evaluated by your doctor. Otherwise, you are not likely to be causing any problems, including arthritis, by your joint cracking. When the noise is coming from your joints are associated with pain, there could be sources of the pain including loose cartilage in the joint, swelling, and other problems that may need to be addressed.

What Happens When You Crack Your Knuckles

Does Cracking Your Knuckles Cause Arthritis?

The need to pop your joints is a medical mystery. No one really knows why this phenomenon exists or its purpose. The mechanics behind joints cracking is well understood, though. A joint is an intersection where two bones connect. The human body has around 360 joints that bring bones together to form a skeleton that is able to bend and move freely.

Joints are surrounded by a membrane full of fluid. The membrane serves to protect the bone caps from friction damage as you move. When you yank on a joint trying to pop it, you create negative space that pulls in some of the fluid. That popping sound that makes Mom cringe is the influx of that fluid.

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Question: What Causes Arthritis

Answer: There are different kinds of arthritis with the major categories being two: The inflammatory arthritides such as the rheumatoid arthritis and the degenerative arthritis best known as osteoarthritis or wear and tear arthritis. The causes for either are not well known and research focuses on elucidating the mechanisms leading to these diseases. In general a genetic predisposition is highly likely for both. For the inflammatory arthritis an unknown exposure to environmental stimuli is considered possible. For the wear and tear arthritis instead, aging and excessive mechanical stress may play a role in accelerating the damage in the joints as it happens in the knees of genetically predisposed older obese people.

Is It Okay To Crack My Joints

When cracking your fingers, toes, shoulders, elbows, back, or neck, the sense of relief is achieved when that tension is released. The joint feels relaxed again, which helps to alleviate stress in the body.

There is actually no evidence that cracking your fingers is harmful or can cause damage. On the contrary, some researchers have discovered a lower incidence of arthritis in people who do crack their fingers.

This continues to be studied to determine whether this is a coincidence, or whether cracking your fingers actually helps prevent arthritis from developing. That said, if you dont feel any natural tension in your hands or joints, dont try to crack them, because you may actually cause damage to your tendons or ligaments.

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Why Do People Crack Their Knuckles

There are many pleasures involved in cracking joints, for those who engage in it.

Some people simply love the sound it makes, and others think it relieves tension in the joint .

For more anxious individuals, knuckle cracking is a habit they just cant quit.

Its a way to keep your hands busy while youre nervous, much like talking with your hands, wringing them, or playing with your hair.

Cracking your knuckles might indicate that youre feeling stressed, with your knuckles providing an area to take it out on.

Question: Are There Any Side Effects To Cracking Knuckles

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There is no evidence that cracking knuckles causes any damage such as arthritis in the joints. However, a couple of reports in the medical literature are available associating knuckle cracking with injury of the ligaments surrounding the joint or dislocation of the tendons which improved with conservative treatment. A study found that after many years of cracking habitual knuckle crackers may have reduced grip strength compared with people not cracking their knuckles.

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Where Do The Cracking Sounds Come From

Does cracking your knuckles cause arthritis? You can understand the answer better if you get an idea of exactly why you hear that cracking sound. You hear the sound when you stretch your fingers and expand the joint, which in turn reduces pressure between the joint and the ligaments that connect your joint with the bone. There are different gasses like nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and oxygen dissolved in the synovial fluid. These gases form little bubbles that cover the empty spaces caused due to depressurization. Those bubbles pop as the joint settles back into place and you hear a cracking sound.

It feels good to hear that cracking sound because you stimulate nerve endings present along the fingers when you stretch the joint. However, you cannot crack your fingers more than once in 15-30 minutes. That is mainly because those gasses take that much of time to dissolve back into the synovial fluid.

Do the Cracking Sounds Need to Be Treated?

You usually need no treatment for joint cracking and popping because no chronic health issues are associated with it. There are many myths associated with this though. Some people believe it can cause arthritis, and others say you can prevent these sounds by taking supplements or doing specific exercises.

When to Worry

Q: Does Cracking Your Knuckles Lead To Arthritis

A: Maybe you do it out of habit, or as a way to release tension. But if youre a regular at cracking your knuckles, youve probably heard that cracking your knuckles will enlarge them or cause arthritis in your joints. Is there any truth to this?

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Turns out, this is an old wives tale. Habitual knuckle-cracking wont cause osteoarthritis or joint enlargement.

Cracking your knuckles releases gas, in the form of nitrogen bubbles from the space around your joints. The sound is triggered as the bubbles are compressed. Researchers arent sure if the sound emitted from cracking your knuckles is that of gas bubbles being formed or released. But its just gas, nonetheless.

That said, the sound can make some people cringe. And a 1999 study found weaker hand grips and more hand swelling among knuckle-crackers.

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