Does anyone crack their bones, and is it safe to do so?

I’ve always wanted to ask this question, and I’ve often been worried about the anwser :eek: ! I crack and pop just about every joint in my body, from head to toe, quite literally, and have done so since I was 14 or 15. Recently (I’m 24 almost), in the past couple years, I’ve actually had to ‘pop’ my joints as a ‘necessity’, rather than just ‘because it felt good’. I realize now (now that it’s way too late) that I should never have started, but the past is the past, and that’s just how it is. If I don’t crack my fingers, neck, back shoulders, forearms, etc. then I get awful pains, headaches (from not cracking my back and neck), my arms get strange and very uncomfortable ‘surges’ (from my nerves being strained no doubt) that ripple through them like an electrical shock. As I said, I’ve never actually asked this question before, I’ve done minor research on the problem, and supposedly once you crack a joint (I’m not talkin’ refer BTW :cool: ) your ligaments and such start pulling away and ripping (ouch, doesn’t sound good). I guess what I’m asking, is do you all think I’ll be a cripple when I’m older (I’d say yes if someone asked me that and I had no experience with it). I haven’t bothered worrying about my ‘condition’, I am extremely tough, physically ‘hard to kill’ (I shave with a dull razor and no cream, take that Crocodile Dundee), and I never pay attention to bruises, cuts or pain (they just go away if you do nothing IME). So my asking this is more curiosity than concern, I can take anything, I’d kinda like to know though if I’ll be in a wheelchair when I’m 40. Any thoughts? :slight_smile:

Ive always heard that it was harmless. Of course, like everything, moderation is part of the equation.

If you are worried, see a doctor.

I doubt it is much, though.

Yeah you should see a chiropractor. Why? *Well, they crack your bones, that’s what they do, they crack your bones! And they take x-rays, but it’s pointless, because whatever is wrong with you… “You’ve got a bad back, I’m gonna crack your bones.” “You’ve got diphtheria, I’m gonna crack your bones.” “Your head’s come off! I’m gonna crack your bones.” “It looks like your mother! I’m going to crack your bones. " And then, when they crack your bones it goes ‘Ooof’ and then, “Ahh!” but not sort of ‘aaaahhhh’, but ‘aaaaAAHH.’ All the way up your spine, “Crack your bones, crack your bones, crack your bones.” And they sort of arrange you into a nice, comfortable position. And sometimes it doesn’t crack! Sometimes it just goes, “pffffthpbt”. Then they pull a mallet from their belt and they try to make the noise. “Make the noise! I live for the noise…” And they do your head as well, around here, and they get it into a nice position, and you’re thinking, “Where the…? No, I don’t think it’s supposed to go around that…!” In the end, you just trust them, you trust them. They could havetheir fingers in your nostrils, one foot on the back of your underpants, and they’re pushing your spine away with a broom.

I can’t recommend it enough.
*The following with all due credit to the inestimable Eddie Izzard.

No, and no. Joints, yes, but I like my bones uncracked, thanks all the same.

And of course, they’re going to have to see you three times a week for the next ten years. Otherwise it doesn’t work.

Wahahahaha…That’s hilarious (tears streaming down face, can’t breathe).
BTW, guys, thanks for the info about the chiropractor. I saw one once about five years back and she nearly fainted when I demonstrated the ‘problem’. It’s not that she was bad at her job (one of the best actually), but I realized I would be constantly having to go and pay big bucks on a regular basis for a very long time. So, I decided to just be a man and live with my mistake (no matter what happened to me). I can pop my spine from bottom to top (I have many methods for doing so), and it feels great afterwards for 2 mins. to 5 hrs. Most people I know complain about their back aching all day long (some of them not much older than me), but I, on the other hand, feel fine: just a twist, a stretch, push something here, pull something there, and I’ve got nothing to complain about. I just hope that my lack of misery now will not just mean I’ll have a lot more down the road, but if that’s the case I guess I’ll have to deal with it. Either I’ll end up being pushed around Walmart when I’m 60, or I’ll end up swinging on the rafters with the greatest of ease (flying trapeze and all that :slight_smile: ).

It might help to understand what’s really cracking. There are small fluid-filled “pads” between the joints of most bones, which are there to reduce friction, prevent bones from rubbing on each other, etc. The cracking noise is created as pressure in these pads changes, producing small bubbles that collapse again as the pressure is relieved.

Done right (like by a chiropractor) this can loosen up stiff and misaligned joints and help them to come back to their ideal position. (This statement is not entirely without controversy in the medical and scientific community, but it seems to be a reasonably supported position).

Done wrong… well, the research on cracking your fingers, at least, seems to suggest no harm is done and it doesn’t contribute to arthritis. I haven’t seen proper research on self-spinal manipulation like you describe, but my thinking is that you’re probably not doing any damage.

The Master speaks.

To sum up: little research, results and mechanism unclear, nothing long-term; it’s either harmless or will aggravate an existing genetic problem, in which case you could get arthritis or similar.

now you know. :slight_smile:

Mostly, but not always:

Sounds ouch to me…

It is safe according to research so far.

As I understand; it is has no long-term effects, but it is still painful; that pain can lead to swelling.

IANAD, but I don’t think chiropractors are doctors either.

The sensation that you feel which you claim is the need to pop your joints (not really cracking your bones), sounds to me like it’s some sort of OCD compulsion.

Purely anecdotal: I cracked my knuckles until sometime in adulthood. Everyone told me that I would have big knuckles. I had the smallest fingers in my class when we ordered class rings. I wear a 4.5 or a 5 now.

Eventually I noticed that I had stopped cracking my knuckles and that I could no longer do it. I have no arthritis in my hands. Other family members did.

I would see a chiropractor or a rhumatologist for serious answers to your questions.

[Cracking knuckles = larger knuckles and arthritis] is long busted myth.

Medical and legal advice are best solicited in IMHO rather than General Questions.


samclem, Moderator

Just my own experience. . . in the past, I felt like when I got really tense, I would feel like I had to bend my neck until it popped. I used to get some really weird looks.

I don’t really remember doing it recently, until just as I was writing that. I’ve been doing some relaxation exercises for my neck and shoulders and that seem to alleviate the problem and not make it feel necessary to ‘crack’ my neck.

If you’re worried about it, you might try some relaxation exercises to those areas around the joints to see if you can relax the muscles enough so that you might not feel the need to pop those joints. It seems to work for me, anyway.

Thanks, everyone, these are better answers and opinions than I’ve gotten anywhere else (proffessionals included). It would seem that my condition is rather unique, not many people report the same issues exactly. When I said I can pop every joint from head to toe, that means everything, starting with my jaw (yes my actual jaw bone by pushing it left and right). My wrists, elbows, knees and ankles pop just by twisting and stretching, no actual force has to be applied. None of these cracks and pops hurt at all, they feel rather good in fact (or at least to me). Whenever someone I know pops something (usually by accident), they always say that it hurts really bad, but I almost thrive on the feeling like a drug or something, almost as if endorphins get released. Maybe that’s just cause it feels extremely good having the pressure released. If I have a headache (don’t have them much), popping my neck and back almost immediately relieves it. Usually if I have a headache, it’s often difficult to do so, but if I finally get my spine to pop it’s always a small crackle, then a little later I’ll try again and get a great big ‘fire cracker’ go off and suddenly the ache is gone. The fluid in my joints must just be bubbling like crazy or something :smiley: . Any way, thanks again!

I have one more suggestion if you don’t want to go the chiro route.

Find an Osteopath that practices the Manual Medicine side of things, and if you can find a Sports Med type Osteo, so much the better.

my chiropractor says, if the doctors can´t find anything, people who crack/pop etc their joints are probably in safe territory. Trust what your body tells you, but sometimes wait a bit before popping your joints to avoid compulsion/addiction.

my chiropractor also told me to not go to chiropractors more than 3-4 times a year, but he knows my condition and have a clear diagnosis.

popping the spine gives one of the best feelings I know. a friend of mine once asked if I needed some paper when I was done.