Cracking knuckles = arthritis?

I have a habit of cracking my knuckles several times a day. When I was younger, my parents tried to deter me from it by telling me that doing that will cause arthritis. Is there any truth to this? If that is true, will going to a chiropractor on a regular basis give you “spinal” arthritis?

Cecil covered this general topic in More of the Straight Dope: What’s actually cracking when you crack your knuckles?. His answer was “probably not”, although it might aggravate other conditions.

In Is “cracking your back” to relieve backache a good idea?, also from More of the Straight Dope, Cecil didn’t mention arthritis as being a risk of spinal manipulation.

I have cracked every joint in my body, except for my hips. I used to get awful headaches at the base of my skull and the back of my head. I started cracking my back and they disappeared.

There are benifits, but I think the arthritis this is crap.

If you want to hear something really cool, put your finger up to your ear and crack it. You can hear the whole process.

How exactly does one crack his/her back on his/her own? Sometimes I do it when in a semi-awkward position and it makes me feel so much better, but I can never repeat the process. How is it done?

I have two ways.
My first process for cracking my back straightening my back while sitting, grabbing the top of the back of the chair/sofa and the side of the back and twisting. My second process is putting my back over the armrest of a chair, clasping my hands and throwing them and my shoulders back to throw my back off balance. You have to make your back loose for this.
That’s how I do it.

The way I ‘crack’ my back is to lie flat on my back on the bed and raise one knee, let’s say the left, and then, keeping my left shoulder flat on the bed, I put my right hand on the outside of my left knee and pull it across my body, trying to touch the knee to the bed on my right, or as far as I could go without pain. Then do the right knee in a like manner.

This would often result in audible pops and cracks that sounded awful, but felt good.

My theory is that my vertebrae(sp?) would get out of alignment and pinch a nerve, and this manipulation would pop them back into alignment. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it.

However, for the last 3 months I’ve been going to the gym again, after a layoff of several years, and I’m having much less back pain.

If I may assume you were asking because you have back pain, might I suggest you invest in an exercise device that makes you stretch/exercise the muscles of your lower back, like a rowing machine? If not, please excuse my forwardness.

I beleive this is a variation on some kind of yoga pose. What I do is sit on the floor with one leg–let’s say the left–crossed and tucked under me. Then I take my right leg and cross it over the left so that my right foot is flat on the floor next to my left knee. Then I turn my body to the right, put my left elbow on the right side of my right knee and, wrench my right arm as far behind me as I can so that the arm remains straight and the palm is flat on the ground. Then, twist. CRUNCH ahhh… Reverse the position and crack the other “side”

I can crack my neck, too. I used to have to have to grab hold of my head with one hand on top and one hand below the chin and manually crack it, but now I’ve got it down to where I can get a good crack just from turning my head at a certain angle. I find if I don’t do this several times a day I get terrible headaches. Oh, yeah, I gross people out all the time.