Monday, April 28, 2014

Cracking Knuckles Cause Arthritis: A Myth or A Fact

Fig: Cracking Knuckles
Image Source: Google Image
It is mostly seen that when people sit for long duration of time in a single place they are likely to knuckle their finger and back. For some people it is a pleasurable thing to do, because they think it gives some peace from the pain they have. For others they think it as annoying, dangerous and even say that it leads to arthritis.

Thus, is there any true fact behind Cracking Knuckles Cause Arthritis, or is just a myth.  Let's have a look.

This may be a myth or it may be fact because till now we don't have a scientific answer to this question. What we know from the past studies is that it doesn't have any connection to arthritis. Some small and mostly outdated data found in PubMed, Google Scholar and Web of Science also says that there are no evidence to prove that knuckle-cracking can lead to arthritis or can progress the diseases.

Fig: Normal and Arthritis hand
Image Source: Google Image
There is one study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine (JABFM) about knuckle-cracking and arthritis also said that there is not a risk factor for osteoarthritis and knuckle-cracking. This study was analyzed on the basis of patient having history of with and without radiographic-evidence of OA.

Before this study, there were two more studies done on this subject some 20 years ago named Effect of habitual knuckle cracking on hand function and The Consequences of Habitual Knuckle Cracking. Both these studies were too proved nothing about the relation between the knuckle cracking and arthritis.

So many studies been done, still it fails to come on true fact to co-relate Cracking Knuckles and Arthritis. This absence of evidence makes this point more towards a myth. Still waiting for another study that can unfounded this.

Video Source:


  1. I think that popping sound is just the release of air within the joints, thus it is not related to joint and cartilage. Thus the studies are not founding any relevant data to conclude.
    Since the popping sound is just the release of air within the joints, I doubt it would hurt the cartilage. The myth likely arose because the sound suggests cartilage components are snapping past each other

  2. I think that cracking of joints always have some relation to joint problem, whether be not always the arthritis it can or may lead to other form of joint problem.

    1. That’s very true…. Of course you are cracking your joints and it will be going to damage you inner working of joint or the inner fines lines of cartilage.

  3. I had read the study mentioned in Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine (JABFM) that-“The amount of force required to crack a knuckle has been shown in vitro studies to exceed the energy threshold that can lead to articular cartilage damage.” After that I really stopped cracking knuckles.

  4. What I think is that this study will have some solid result after sometime…

  5. I doubt it would hurt the cartilage. It is just a myth.

  6. I had read the complete abstract of Effect of habitual knuckle cracking on hand function; it was done on 74 habitual knuckle crackers and 226 non-knuckle crackers. In that study they found that habitual knuckle cracking people have swelling in hand and lower grip strength.