Knuckle cracking: good or bad?

I have read numerous conflicting information on knuckle cracking.

It is bad and causes arthritis, instability in the joint, weakened grip strength, etc.

Conversely I’ve read it is good for you. The collapse of the air bubbles in the synovial fluid lubricates the joints. It stretches the joints & relieves pressure.

What is the straight dope?

I crack my fingers, wrists, shoulders, and ankles routinely. I used to crack my neck but gave that up 2 decades ago after reading about someone who became paralyzed after cracking his neck.

Oddly I notice that the more I crack my joints, the more I need to crack them :confused:. Can anyone explain this?

Neither good or bad. In knuckles just gas coming out of solution and in some other joints is actually tendons snapping over bony prominences (those are the ones you can repeat immediately.)

Of course what I say when asked by kids or their parents in the office (pediatrician) is that it is very dangerous, possibly fatal … because if they keep it up their Mom might just kill them. :slight_smile:

The need is just the more you do the more you think about it, just likely many other habits develop.

According to Donald L. Unger, it doesn’t cause arthritis in at least one case.

Knuckle cracking is good. It let’s people know you mean business. I have no idea if it’s physically good or bad for you, but it sounds like the idea that’s it bad for you was made up without any real basis. Lot’s of people end up with arthritis in their hands and it ought to be easy to correlate that with knuckle cracking if it is a problem.

Last I heard, the only empirical studies on the subject indicate it made no difference whatsoever.