Does Knuckle Cracking Lead to Arthritis?

As children, we were told that cracking and popping your knuckles leads to arthritis, but is this true? The pleasure of popping your knuckles is unbeatable, but if it does lead to symptoms of arthritis, it might be time to curb the temptation. Peak Physical Therapy’s physical therapists Norwell MA are here to debunk this well-known conspiracy. 


What Happens When You Crack Your Knuckles?

Knuckles are the joints that connect each part of your fingers together and to the hand. These joints, as any other joint in the body, is surrounded by a thick, clear, liquid called synovial fluid. When joints move, nitrogen bubbles can form within the synovial fluid. The cracking or popping noise you hear when you pull, squeeze, or move a joint is the nitrogen bubbles bursting. Cracking sounds can also be heard in the case of a tendon snapping over tissues because of an adjustment in their gliding paths. This can occur with aging and growth. 


Does Knuckle Cracking Lead to Arthritis?

In short, no. In most cases, painless and periodic cracking or popping of any joint is not harmful and does not lead to the formation of arthritis. According to Dr. Klapper, once the nitrogen bubble has been popped, it takes roughly 20 minutes to re-form within the joints. If popping a knuckle is accompanied by pain, there are typically underlying causes such as abnormal joint structure, loose cartilage, injured ligaments, or even dislocated bone.  If tugging on your joints to hear the satisfying “pop” becomes a habit, the physical therapists Norwell MA at Peak Physical Therapy warn that patients who already suffer from osteoarthritis can worsen their symptoms by cracking their knuckles repeatedly. Although popping your knuckles is believed to be a cause of arthritis, arthritis is caused by a person’s own immune system attacking their joints, so the two have no correlation. 


Do You Experience Pain During or After Popping Your Knuckles? 

If this is the case, that after you pop your knuckles or any joint for that matter, it is suggested by the physical therapists Norwell MA at Peak Physical Therapy to contact them to schedule a consultation. Pain during any movement is abnormal and could be signs of underlying complications, injuries, or illnesses. 


 Peak Physical Therapy Norwell MA 

Our South Shore Physical Therapy practice specializes in physical therapy including many specialty programs including return-to-sports, vestibular, pelvic health, post-concussion, aquatics, and more. Locations include physical therapists Norwell, MA, Scituate, MA, Quincy, MA, Hanover, MA, Pembroke, MA, and Braintree, MA. Our specialized programs combined with state-of-the-art facilities allow us to meet the unique needs of our local patients and achieve the fastest results. If you are unsure whether this type of treatment can help you, we offer a no-obligation FREE injury screening. Click here for more information.


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Norwell, MA
Scituate, MA
Quincy, MA
Hanover, MA
Braintree, MA
Pembroke, MA


Hanover, MA
  • Healthtrax Health Club
  • 20 East St.
  • Hanover, MA 02339
  • Phone/Text: 781-347-4686
Scituate, MA
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  • Scituate, MA 02066
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Scituate, MA
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