Have you ever had your parents scold you for cracking your knuckles at the dinner table because it’s poor etiquette? Has anyone tried to scare you by saying cracking your knuckles will cause you to get arthritis when you get older? Cracking your knuckles may be annoying to others around you, but can it really cause arthritis later in life or is this one of those so-called bad habits that aren't really that bad for you?
As it turns out, the notion that cracking your knuckles leads to problems is one of those popular health myths you need to stop believing. In fact, there have been several studies that debunk this commonly held belief.
One study included one group of people who cracked their knuckles regularly and one group that did not. While the results showed that knuckle cracking lowered the average grip strength and increased hand swelling, it didn’t lead to an increased instance of arthritis.
So, why do our hands and other parts of our body create cracking or popping sounds? There are gas bubbles that form in the synovial fluid or joint fluid and the action of bending your knuckle is like adding pressure to a balloon until it pops.
It usually takes about 20 minutes for the bubbles to form again. During that period, your joints feel looser and relieved from the pressure, which is the whole appeal to knuckle cracking. So whether you crack your knuckles because of anxiety or as a nervous habit, there’s nothing really bad about it for your bone health.
However, you should be careful about the amount of pressure you use when cracking your knuckles. There have been cases leading to dislocation or tendon injuries from overly vigorous knuckle cracking. Though this habit may be relaxing for you, be mindful of others around you who might not want to hear your bones crack. Being inconsiderate of others is an etiquette mistake you need to stop making by age 30.