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Are You Hurting Your Joints When You Crack Knuckles?

By Sara Butler

Almost everyone has had their grandmother or mother reprimand them for cracking their knuckles. People have been told all sorts of things will happen as a result of all that cracking, from large, swollen, knuckles to arthritis in the hands. But is that really true? Are you doing any harm to your knuckles when you crack your joints?

The chiropractors at The Joint Chiropractic know a thing or two about joint health -- and even the pops and cracks that can occur. Here's what you need to know about cracking your knuckles and if you're really doing any long-term damage to your joints.

Why Joints Crack

Even if it's unintentional, many people have had a joint pop or crack on them. Even visits to the chiropractor can sometimes result in popping and cracking joints when having a hands-on chiropractic adjustment performed. What causes this to happen?

The truth is that no one is 100 percent sure why popping and cracking occur in the joints. The educated opinions of many professionals are that the synovial fluid your joints are bathed in have little air bubbles that release gas when the joint is pulled, causing a popping sound.

Should You Crack Your Knuckles (or Other Joints)?

There's no scientific evidence to support the idea that cracking your knuckles leads to degenerative issues such as arthritis. However, there is some evidence that chronic knuckle-crackers can experience reduced grip strength as well as chronic swelling in the joints.

As far as other joints are concerned, when it comes to your spine or other major joints, it's best to leave the adjustments up to the professionally trained chiropractors.

How to Stop

If you're a knuckle-cracker, it may be a good idea to try to stop this habit since it can have an impact on the joints, causing swelling and impacting strength.

A few tips to help you reform your knuckle-cracking ways include:

  • Think about why you do it - Some people crack their knuckles to relieve tension or anxiety. Think about the reason you're a knuckle cracker to understand where the compulsion comes from so you can try to stop it.
  • Stretch - Instead of cracking your joints, work on stretching out your hands instead. This can offer some of the relief you experience from cracking joints.
  • Keep hands occupied - Think about trying out a hand-driven hobby to help you keep your hands occupied. That way, you won't think about cracking them as much.

If you're worried about your joints, then talk to the chiropractors at The Joint Chiropractic. 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in San Jose, Calif.

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