Knuckle Cracking

I'm not a knuckle cracker myself. In fact, I hate it when people crack their knuckles. And I've frequently told people that cracking their knuckles would cause arthritis. After all, that's what everyone says. But according to this NY Times article (republished in the Arizona Republic) it's not true. It's an urban legend.
Just reading this description of what causes knuckles to crack makes me cringe:
The loud pop of a cracked knuckle is caused by synovial fluid, the thick lubricant that surrounds every joint. When the fingers are stretched or bent backward, the bones of the joint pull apart. This creates bubbles of air in the fluid, which subsequently burst.
But as for the evidence that knuckle cracking doesn't cause arthritis, the article cites a 1990 study:
The largest study to explore a link to arthritis was published in 1990 in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. It looked at 300 healthy people older than 45, 74 of them habitual knuckle crackers. The rates of arthritis of the hand were similar in both groups, though the knuckle crackers, on average, had reduced grip strength.
Still, I think I might keep telling people who are cracking their knuckles that it's going to give them arthritis, just to annoy them and maybe scare them into stopping.

Body Manipulation Health/Medicine Urban Legends

Posted on Tue Feb 01, 2005


I'm a 7th grader, 13 boy. Lately during science class getting bored I've twisted in my chair to crack my back. during dome of my other classes I push to crack it. I noticed that I'm doing it much more often, and the noises are getting slightly louder. It feels good, and I like doing it more. Even sitting at the computer I crack it, and I noticed that during school I have to crack it or otherwise it feels a little stiff. I've had my sister walk on it once or twice, and it feels so good. I read some articles online, finally ending up here at the blog. I'm going to try and stop. I suppose eventually my body will get used to it being not cracked again. I hope so, because I don't think it is good for your vertebra. And it is addicting! It's at the point where I have to crack it like routine every day. I'm going on strike to not crack it anymore. Any comments on this would be greatly appreciated.
Posted by peter  on  Wed Jan 17, 2007  at  08:33 PM
hahahaha wow... that's the weirdest thing i've ever heard... so that's the fact behind knuckle cracking... ew... i crack my knuckles all the times... and my friend was like it's gonna make your knuckle fatter... is that a myth too???
Posted by Kira  on  Thu Feb 08, 2007  at  09:57 PM
I've been cracking my fingers since last year and everyone I meet tells me that it gives you arthritis, but I don't believe them. It has never been proven. My friend at school taught me how to crack my fingers. She has been doing since she was 8. We are both 13 now. My brother and mum really hate the sound. I just do it out of habit. I wonder if I'll ever stop. It is so addictive,lol.
Posted by Kaity  on  Sat Mar 31, 2007  at  08:41 PM
I also crack my joints all the time. In fact, even if I try not to pop them, they still wind up popping just doing everyday things. Plus, it is a habit, like you've all said, I really can't help myself, and it really helps you stretch out, especially if you've been sitting still for a while. I also do know alot of people who find the sound gross, which I find hilarious. 😊
Posted by Werdna  on  Tue May 01, 2007  at  10:08 PM
Hello i am only 12 years of age and i have been cracking my knuckles for atleast 2 days lol i can only crack my knuckles when i pull my fingures.. but that hurts so instead im trying to learn to crack them by just pushing my fist.. if ya gemme ,, well i would like someone to tell me how to do that... i have looked up on websites and rarely any interests to my content.. so if anyone will help me thankyou.. x
Posted by Victoria  on  Sat May 12, 2007  at  06:05 AM
Lord Lucan is ingnorant and insulting. Just lok at the sheew scope of documented evidence that supports this theory.

And greg in new zealand.... that is really bad taste
Posted by ben  on  Sat May 26, 2007  at  01:23 AM
Lil Victoria in England. Hate to assist you with starting such a bad habit. I have been addicted to popping my knuckles and toes and back for years now. Sometimes my neck and one knee for while. I have carpal tunnel in the past several yrs - wonder if there is a relation to carpal tunnel and popping knuckles! LOL. Anyway... I used to pull pop my knuckles, then one day I did it and it hurt soooo bad! (I think that was in like 6th grade or something - I graduated from HS in 1996). So, I stopped popping for awhile, then one day I popped my knuckle in a different way and... well... I'm back to popping again. I just curl my fingers down into a fist (keep your thumb out of the way) and use your other hand to push your fingers back. Ahhh...just did it to make sure I told you right. Pop, pop, crack, pop! hehehe.
Okay, someone else was wanting help w/ popping their back. I have a few methods, but one easy one when sitting in a chair... seriously, squeeze your butt and thighs together and straighten your back, push back alittle all at the same time. Or do the same thing, but push your thighs outward while doing it. Either, works for me about half the time and cracks all the way from the tailbone up to the middle of my back. I also leave over counters or chairs, leaning right about at the tailbone area. Or you could sit straight in a chair with arms and twist, using the arms to help you pull. But that way kinds freaks me out, if I really have to pull. I pop my back to relieve the pain and stiffness. Stiffness in my knuckles and neck are why I pop those mostly. :D
Posted by Donut  on  Mon Jun 04, 2007  at  12:55 PM
my girl friend cracks her knuckles so much that it drives me crazy and then she also cracks her toes which is sick and also like to go barefoot. She says she got it from one of her friends who does the same thing and shes been a knuckle cracker for 2 years and her knuckles are huge
Posted by dave  on  Sun Jun 17, 2007  at  08:02 PM
I have to say, my knuckles haven't changed in size at all and I've been popping for years!!! (knock on wood)...
Posted by Donut  on  Thu Jun 21, 2007  at  11:27 AM
Omg. I just read through everyones and was laughing so fucking hard.It's hysterical, I'm a stoner and reading all these thoughts really made me feel better, because I've been thinking about this for years. I crack everything. My favourite is bending backwards and hearing my spine explode from top to bottom. I feel like I could run miles after it. And first thing in the morning I twist my arms 200 degrees until both my shoulders sound like they've dislocated. AND NOTHING FEELS BETTER.

crack is so not wack.
Posted by clairey  on  Tue Jun 26, 2007  at  07:02 PM
i think that for people who want to get over the addiction, that everyone has their time. By that i mean that there will be a time where you don't even have to try to stop crakcing. i used to really really really wish that i could stop cracking and got really pissed and everything but now i am starting to just slow the rate of my cracking bit by bit. 😜

i used to ask my friens how they got over the addiction, but they just said that they stopped cracking and and don't know how.
i guess i know what they mean now. 😊
Posted by Susan is cool  on  Fri Jul 27, 2007  at  10:53 PM
hey i crack them all the timme and i am so relived that i am safe!!
Posted by Sarah  on  Sat Apr 19, 2008  at  09:30 AM
I have heard somewhere that people who do a lot of typing everyday can develop arthritis. I was reading these articles and am thinking that perhaps knuckle popping can prevent arthritis for those who type a lot? Well in any case, it sure does feel good popping my knuckles. Life is just too short not to experience the good feeling of popping your knuckles.
Posted by Spiderman-freak  on  Mon Jul 20, 2009  at  03:31 PM
you knuckle crackers make me want to cut your fucking hands off. Especially when you're on here bragging about it like its so cute. I think I'd feel very good to put my foot up the ass of at least a couple of knuckle crackers every fucking day.
Posted by motherfucker  on  Fri Sep 04, 2009  at  09:29 AM
Knukle poping has not become a real habbit for me, but i've been doing it more and more lately. I've been doing it for at least 2 or 3 year (I know how to crack my wrist knuckles and neck) i've been getting mayjor pains in my neck every time i wake up and I just get it massaged or something to make the pain go away. though every time I crack my wrist it feels really freaky but I can't stop it!...I need some help 😉

Lifes small.. live it LARGE :DDD
Posted by J.C  on  Sat Feb 13, 2010  at  11:45 PM
does anyone pop their tailbone??? it started wen i just happened 2 b sitting in my desk, well more like slouching, and my tailbone popped on the bottom edge of the seat; and now i love 2 pop it bcus it feeels amazing! :D
Posted by amy  on  Wed Aug 04, 2010  at  01:22 AM
idk y ppl think its annoying 2 hear someone pop their joints....i cant think of anyway it would b annoying...its not even a weird sound or anything...idk those ppl r weird. maybe they wouldnt mind it so much if they popped a joint themselves! 😛
Posted by amy  on  Wed Aug 04, 2010  at  01:36 AM
I crack three places in my fingers, two places in my thumbs, my toes, my neck, my shoulders and 4 places in my back. Most of the back and shoulder and neck cracking is while doing yoga or bending over backwards, though and someone said that natural movements won't harm you? I don't know. But I pop my fingers and toes a lot. My fingers pop when I spread them out and pull them back without touching them. I can't stop cracking them. How DO I stop?
Thats 54 joints I can crack(:
Posted by A  on  Tue Aug 31, 2010  at  10:59 PM
I can pop each finger twice, my back by turning each way, all 10 toes, knees, both ankles, wrists, and elbows. mostly after wAking. used to be able to pop my neck but can't/don't want to. it feels good and does not cause arthritis. from what Iearned in college, any pop that does not hurt is actually somewhat beneficial because it releases calcium. any pop that hurts should be avoided bc this is harmful. I have unintentionally popped since I was a baby; my parents thought something was wrong bc I popped so much. doctors said this was normal. and any people out there who are seriously commenting on this matter and are
rude, arrogant, and have nothing positive to say, then don't comment. It just shows what type of person you are.
Posted by Megan  on  Mon Sep 20, 2010  at  11:40 PM
I have been cracking my knuckles for quiet a while now, and am concerned. My fingers have lots of wrinkles and are very pale. Please comment if you have any ideas to help reduce the addiction of cracking knuckles.
Posted by Alissa  on  Tue Mar 29, 2011  at  08:15 PM
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