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Does Knuckle Cracking cause Arthritis?

Ever been told (usually by your parents or grandparents) that if you crack your knuckles too much then you will wear them out? It was a very common theory circulating back around the times of the mid 1900’s that the collapse of air bubbles within fluid causes degeneration of items within the liquid. Although this is true in marine equipment, people also suspected that the same could be said for the synovial fluid within our joints. As such, they suspected that the cracking of your knuckles could lead to degeneration, otherwise known as Osteoarthritis. However, a recent study by de Weber, Olszewski and Ortolano disputed this idea. Their study, which included 215 respondents between 50-89, had 135 of those patients suffering with Osteoarthritis. The total amount of people that cracked their knuckles within the 215 participants was 43 patients. Their study concluded that there was no significant difference in Osteoarthritis diagnosis, and even a very slight decrease in prevalence, with those who did crack their knuckles having an 18.5% prevalence of Osteoarthritis and those who did not having a 21.5% prevalence.

Although there is slight difference between them, this is very minimal and wouldn’t provide enough evidence that it has major clinical changes. However, if you do tend to crack your knuckles, the safest and most effective way is by using long axis traction as opposed to bending into a fist. Doing this by pulling the finger straight away from the joint allows opening of the joint instead of compressing the joint with the fist cracking. This allows the joint to release as easily and safely as possible. However if you find that you have a lot of joint immobility or stiffness, a professional practitioner may be able to properly treat and create longer lasting mobility for these affected joints. If you have joint stiffness which doesn’t seem to shift, feel free to book an appointment to consult with one of our qualified chiropractors at Anderson Family Chiropractic on 4942 6930.

Knuckle Cracking and Hand Osteoarthritis

Kevin deWeber, Mariusz Olszewski, Rebecca Ortolano

The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine Mar 2011, 24 (2) 169-174; DOI: 10.3122/jabfm.2011.02.100156


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