Snap, Crackle, Pop

If you read the title of this blog and instantly thought about Rice Krispies, I'm sorry to disappoint you that this post will not be about Rice Krispies or any other food. Those sounds can also refer to something else, something that is probably not as appealing. That something is knuckle cracking. I've fallen victim to this awful habit for quite a few years now and I don't plan on trying to break it any time soon. All throughout my life I've been told knuckle cracking is bad and when I get older my knuckles are going to pay the consequences. Interested to see if that was actually true, I decided to do some research.
In a very brief article, it explains the anatomy of what your knuckle is really made up of. To simplify the article, when a person cracks their knuckles, they are essentially popping a gas bubble that has been formed in your knuckle. When that bubble is popped, it gives off that snap, crackle or pop sound. As this article states, knuckling cracking shouldn't cause arthritis or long term damage, unless you continue to stretch out the ligaments. But where's the proof?
In a more detailed article, it discusses a few studies that have been done to help prove the viewpoint that cracking your knuckles doesn't cause serious damage. To view and analyze the studies better, click on the links in the article. Overall, the studies that were done touched on a wide variety of knuckle cracking. Between frequency, large sample sizes and doing studies over different time periods, it seems that there is strong evidence that cracking your knuckles really isn't that bad.
The second article brings up a great point with one of the studies that showed negative effects from knuckle cracking. Although people's hands were more swollen, the study doesn't account for the condition people's hands were in before the study started. It also had an older age group of people and we all know that in most cases the older you get the worse your joints are going to feel. There have been a number of studies done in different fashion with different outcomes, yet they all seem to lead to one conclusion: cracking your knuckles is not as bad as everyone says it is. However, everyones joints are different and everyone cracks their knuckles differently and at a different frequency. It'd be impossible to fully rule out the chance of getting arthritis from cracking your knuckles, but for those of you who also deal with this habit, don't stress so much if it seems like you just can't stop that snap, crackle or pop. 

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I enjoyed reading this because I crack almost everything: fingers, toes, back, neck, you name it. My mom cringes when I crack anything and she cannot stand the sound. So of course she's always told me it's bad for me so I would stop. I recently asked my doctor about this too and she said that as far as they know there's nothing wrong with it either and she said the same thing your article did about just releasing gas bubbles. The only thing I think mosts studies should start including in these studies are the different joints people crack. The majority of people who crack their joints usually refer to their hands. Overall, none of them state if there's different outcomes for different parts of the body, so maybe certain body parts are worse than others?

Like most of us, I was always told not to crack my knuckles because it was bad. I also was told that it would make my fingers fat. You stated in your blog that your fingers could swell up so I guess that was not such a myth after all. I found this article that states that knuckle cracking could led to a loss of grip strength. This would only occur if your not gentle and crack your knuckles often. This happens because the bones and tendons are receiving pressure from cracking your knuckles. The majority of the time the body tissues will not be able to recover or go back to their original state. Below is the article that explains this idea that knuckle cracking can cause a loss in grip strength.

I have cracked my knuckles since I was a little kid, partially because it was a bad habit, and partially because my knuckles felt stiff and restricted without doing it. I was always told it was bad, but never felt the need to quit. One thing that had bothered me though was that my fingers (and only my fingers) are double-jointed (or, as this article correctly states, hypermobile). I can bend my fingers in some odd ways, to include painlessly bending my pinky all the way back, flat against the back of my hand. Obviously this caused some concern for my parents, and myself as well, thinking about how this might affect me in the future. The article I linked above says there is not much impact with respects to arthritis and future pain. However, this article states that arthritis is a serious problem for people with hypermobility, especially in the fingers. I would like to see many more tests done on this idea, and as Alyssa commented, I would like to see more studies done on different areas of the body.

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