5 Truths Revealed About Cracking Your Knuckles
Depending who you ask, cracking one’s knuckles is either a deeply satisfying tick or an irritating and wince-inducing activity. There are those who habitually crack their knuckles, those who can do so easily upon command, and those who feel squeamish at hearing the noise. In any case, the science that lies behind knuckle-cracking has recently gone through an update. For half a century, the distinctive cracking sound was understood to be caused by a change in the pressure of synovial fluid inside of the joint. Now, using MRI equipment, a team of international researchers has determined that the actual cause is not synovial fluid at all.
Rather, they have identified a “cavity” or vacuum-like pocket that forms within the joint each time that it is extended. As this cavity forms, it makes the tell-tale snapping or cracking noise. The discovery, made in the Spring of 2015, opens up new questions about knuckle-cracking and joint health. It appears, from the research, that there are no links between cracking your knuckles and developing joint issues, despite persistent myths. However, with the new observations, scientists may begin to study joint cracking in more detail. The full ramifications of regularly cracking your knuckles are yet to be seen.
Science Has Only Recently Explained the Phenomenon
Although people have been cracking their joints for as long as we can recall, the explanation for the phenomenon has only recently been updated. A team of international researchers based in Canada took an MRI video of a man cracking each of his knuckles. The subject of the trial, Canadian chiropractor Jerome Fryer, has the unusual ability to crack any of his fingers on demand.
A “Vacuum” Creates the Cracking
Previous to the 2015 study, the general scientific explanation had been that, when a joint was pulled, the synovial fluid had rushed into the newly created space within the joint. That sudden movement of fluid was thought to create a change of pressure within the joint. As a result, gas bubbles would pop, causing the familiar cracking noise. Instead, the revised explanation sees the creation of a vacuum, instead, as explaining the cracking phenomenon.
There Are No Known Negative Effects
Although there are widespread accounts that cracking your joints will cause damage, it appears that these are nothing more than myths. In fact, researchers have dedicated multiple studies to examining any possible relationship between joint cracking and arthritis or other degenerative diseases. In one study, undertaken by researchers in Los Angeles, possible links were explored between habitual knuckle cracking and arthritis. No connection was found.
More Research Ahead
According to the scientists behind the April 2015 trial in Canada, it remains to be seen how this discovery will influence future research. Now that the mechanism behind joint cracking is understood, it may be studied in further detail. With the new information now available, future studies may focus on potential therapeutic or deleterious effects of regular knuckle cracking.
All Joint Cracking is Not the Same
The type of knuckle cracking that’s common as a habitual tic is not necessarily the same as clicks or pops you hear when moving other joints in unusual ways. When tendons catch on irregular edges of bones, popping or cracking noises may also occur. If you experience these cracking noises, you may wish to consult a medical professional.
Here’s What Happens When You Crack Your Knuckles| Huffington