Forcefully pushing valuable bones in your body until you hear and feel a ‘pop’ sound does not sound too healthy. Unfortunately, I am a knuckle cracker. Honestly, before I began to type I had to crack my knuckles just from the thought of it. I recently made a knew friend who cracks his knuckles even more than I do, which led me to this topic. Advice and common sense tells me that this is probably a terrible habit to continue, but I still do it every day, several times a day.
Scientific processes within the body lead to the cracking. Tina Saey refers to the process as cavitation, where as Every Day Health call it tribonucleatioin, but the name is not too important for the sake of this argument. According to Saey and Every Day Health, when you make your bones separate, it makes a space and then you hear the crack. I achieve this by sticking my finger out and pushing it towards my wrist until it cracks. I’ve seen people pull their finger straight out, or curl their finger and push down on the joint.
There are many different claims of the long term side effects cracking your knuckles can have. Perhaps the most trivial supposed side effect is enlarging your knuckles leading to an unpleasant appearance of your hands. Allie Firestone references a study that proves this to be true. She says that over time, people who crack their knuckles have a higher chance of having bigger hands. A minor impact cracking knuckles has been proven to have by Jorge Castellanos and David Axelrod is reducing grip strength. A link to the pdf of their full study can be found here . Arthritis is the other claim that is a lot more scary. One study by Kevin DeWeber surveyed people 50-89 years old and did not find a causal link between cracking knuckles and causing arthritis. Unless this result is a false positive, this is great new for me because I can continue to crack my knuckles without fear of it catching up with me later in life in the form of a painful disease. Cracking my knuckles is not as bad as it seems.
For some people, cracking knuckles may need to be a habit worth kicking. Cracking my knuckles is mentally satisfying, so it is worth the minor risks. Over time, I probably will not even notice if my hands get bigger, and it is not 100% that they will increase in size. I do not think my grip strength needs to be extremely high in everyday life, but of course I would not want to lose it all together. I imagine I will still be able to function perfectly fine with a slightly lower grip strength that I once again, may not even notice. Knuckle cracking is an overall okay habit.