Knuckle crackers may find pleasure from their practice despite the annoyance or warnings of damage from others, but concerns about arthritis are apparently myths. Several studies have shown that knuckle cracking doesn’t raise the risk of arthritis.
The popping sound from knuckle cracking comes from the bursting of tiny bubbles in the synovial fluid that lubricates the joints in the hands and fingers. As people stretch or bend the fingers backward, the bones are pulled apart to cause the pressure that bursts and pops the bubbles.
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However, knuckle cracking on a regular basis could lead to swollen hands and a reduction in grip strength as well as injuries, according to Harvard Health Publications
Dr. Donald Unger revealed the results of a self-study in a 1998 edition of Arthritis and Rheumatism. Unger had taken it upon himself to do a self-analysis by cracking the knuckles in his left hand for 50 years while leaving his right hand alone.
“There was no arthritis in either hand, and no apparent differences between the two hands,” Unger reported, according to Medical News Today
“Mother, you were wrong!” Unger reportedly said after earning a 2009 Ig Nobel Prize for Medicine, an award given on the eve of the real Nobel Prize ceremony for achievements that are humorous or make people think. His mother was among the people who had told him knuckle cracking caused arthritis.
The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences studied 214 people. Although 18.1 percent of the knuckle crackers had developed arthritis in their hands, 21.5 percent of subjects who did not crack their knuckles had arthritis in their hands, Medical News Today reported.
A 1990 study of 300 participants found similar rates of arthritis in the hands among knuckle crackers and those who did not crack their knuckles. However, those who cracked their knuckles had higher rates of weaker grips and inflammation of the hands, it was reported by the researchers at the Department of Internal Medicine, Mount Carmel Mercy Hospital, in Detroit.
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Research at Harvard and the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center has shown no link between arthritis and knuckle cracking, but research has shown a connection between knuckle crackers and an increased risk in soft-tissue swelling and a weakened grip, according to Medical News Today.
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