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Is Cracking Your Knuckles Bad For You?

Also Known As: popping your knuckles



Short answer

Cracking your knuckles, contrary to popular belief, is not bad for you. However, it isn't necessarily good for you either.



Long answer

Have you ever cracked your knuckles just to have someone tell you, "better stop that, you're going to have arthritis"? If you have, you are in for some good news. Many joints in the human body contain small gaps, or pockets, that are filled up with synovial fluid. Think of the fluid like engine oil. The oil is there to lubricate the parts and keep them smoothly interacting with one another. When you "crack" your knuckles (pull, twist, etc.), you expand the pocket between your bones. The expansion creates negative pressure that rapidly pulls in synovial fluid creating the popping noise you hear.

Now to answer the question: cracking your knuckles, for the most part, is not bad for you. Donald Unger, researcher and Nobel award winner, decided he would crack the knuckles of just one hand for 60 years. After the 60 year period, he found that there wasn't any more arthritis in one hand than the other. Other studies done specifically looked for the presence of "joint poppers" in osteoporosis patients. Those who cracked their knuckles weren't any more likely to suffer from the condition. Cracking your knuckles won't give you arthritis. The only negative thing said to result, is the loss of grip strength over a prolonged period of time.

Possible short-term side effects

  • may annoy others

Possible long-term side effects

  • loss of grip strength

Big is cracking your knuckles bad for you 3


  • it's satisfying

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Written by Kathan Natrajan | 12-27-2015

Written by Kathan Natrajan
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