People sometimes have the habit of cracking their knuckles. Is cracking your knuckles bad? Well for some people it is means to relieve their stress, which has turned into a habit. Some people get irritated when others do it, and others will advise them to avoid it because of the bad effects they believe it can cause. If you are one of those people who habitually crack and pop their knuckles, read about where the crack sound comes from, the possible harm to fingers and how to stop this habit.
How Does the “Crack” Sound Come?
How the 'cracking' sound comes when the fingers are pulled or bent may be explained this way: Finger joints, like other joints in the body, contain a fluid called synovial fluid, which is in a small bag or compartment in the joint. This bag is stretched when you crack your knuckles, causing it to pop. The crack is heard when carbon dioxide is released as the bag pops. The bag refills in a few minutes, after which cracking may be heard again when the fingers are stretched or bent.
Is Cracking Your Knuckles Bad?
Stretching may be relaxing and can help reduce joint stiffness after many hours of writing, typing, painting, or other tasks. However, the relaxing effect is temporary.
- Some people warn that cracking the knuckles will lead to arthritis, a chronic condition of the joints characterized by pain, stiffness, inflammation and swelling. However, studies show that there is no link between knuckle cracking and arthritis. Although arthritis is not a risk, knuckle cracking can have other undesirable consequences.
- People who pull and bend their fingers to produce a cracking sound may overstretch their ligaments and cartilages (soft tissues that surround the joint). Over time, this may lead to soft tissue injury and inflammation. Cracking knuckles can cause swelling of the finger joints, although this is not always direct effect of knuckle cracking. Watch out for pain, because knuckle cracking should not be associated with any pain and may be a sign that something else is wrong with the finger joints. Finally, this habit may reduce your grip strength.
Here is a video to tell you the medical myth of cracking knuckles.
How to Stop Cracking Your Knuckles
Do not worry if the information stated here concerns you because there are some ways you can easily stop the habit. Cracking knuckles may be addicting, and people often do it even if they are not stressed. According to experts, the habit rooted in one’s mind, and it can be stopped by conditioning your mind.
- First, try to identify the times when you have an urge to crack the knuckles. Perhaps you are just anxious, bored, or stressed. In these cases, find a distraction and do something else. This will involve a conscious effort on your part.
- When you feel your fingers becoming stiff during work, just make a fist and stretch the fingers open as much as possible instead of pulling or bending. You can apply massage lotion or oil on the hands to reduce stiffness, which may tempt you to crack your knuckles.
- Try wearing socks on the hands if you cannot stop yourself from doing the habit.
- You can also engage in other usual habits to stop knuckle cracking, such as tapping fingers or using a pencil to fidget with your hands, just to help you stop the annoying habit. This helps especially if you are particularly addicted to the 'crack' sound produced when you pull and bend your fingers. It may also help to reward yourself when you are able to resist the urge of this habit.
- If you have calcium deficiency try taking daily calcium supplements to correct any joint problems.
- Finally, observe someone else who has the habit and check if the effects mentioned are true. Or, if you cannot stop the habit and would rather enjoy the results it gives you, only you can verify if these findings are applicable to you.