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blueberry_kid's avatar

What really happens when you pop your knuckles?

Asked by blueberry_kid (5952points) July 9th, 2012

I recently read an article that talked about arthritis, and it was saying that knuckle cracking leads to it, but how?

Does anyone know what happens when you crack your knuckle?

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7 Answers

Fly's avatar

The general consensus over the past years is that it’s just an old wives’ tale, as there has not been a proven correlation. This recent article explains what knuckle cracking is and explains that it seems to be harmless.

DrBill's avatar

I have been popping mine for 50 years, and they are just fine and no sign of arthritis,

gasman's avatar

The generally accepted explanation is a phenomenon known as cavitation. Pulling apart a joint generates negative pressure (partial vacuum), causing a sudden release of gases dissolved in the synovial fluid. The time it takes for re-absorption of these gases accounts for the refractory period during which you can’t re-crack the knuckle for some minutes.

As already mentioned in the Wikipedia article in @Rarebear‘s link, there’s a Doctor Donald Unger who cracked the knuckles of his left hand only, leaving the right hand alone as a control, for fifty years! He reported no arthritis in either hand & no difference between the hands. Ref.

Ponderer983's avatar

What @gasman said, however I did hear that it does contribute to a weakening grip over many years. I think I read that in the book “Why do Men Have Nipples” or the follow up book to that.

Sunny2's avatar

@DrBill Fifty is not the age at which you may have problems. Wait until you’re 65 to 90. Then check how your knuclkes are doing and report back.

ucme's avatar

You annoy people within hearing distance.

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