Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Is it safe to safe to crack your knuckles?

Patients often ask me if it is safe to “crack” there own knuckles. Although most have heard it is bad for you, evidence does not support the old wives tale.

Every joint in our body (where bones meet), have a joint capsule filled with synovial fluid. Synovial fluid contains gases such as oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. When we pull on our joints, the pressure within the joint capsule decreases and some of these gasses release. This is what causes that “popping” sound that many of us confuse for bones “cracking” together. It is the same principal as the sound we hear when we open a canned soft drink. This is the same sound you sometimes hear during a chiropractic adjustment.

There are different types of arthritis. The most common type is Osteoarthritis (OA). Over time, OA can be caused from things like wear and tear on our joints, weakening of the bones, trauma, and family history. Pain, redness, and/or swelling over the joint may indicate arthritis or damage within the joint.

Only small studies have been done on “finger cracking” and arthritis, but most results showed no relationship. One study done in a Jewish nursing home actually found that those who “cracked” their own knuckles actually had LESS arthritis. However, a later study done in Detroit, found that people who “cracked” there knuckles had less grip strength compared to those who did not. The most recent study done found NO difference between those who had arthritis and those who did not.
So, is it dangerous to crack your knuckles? Probably not, but be careful who you do it around because it might be considered annoying.

Dr Stacia Kell

Ottawa Chiropractor

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