Joints are not known for always being quiet. They can actually make a wide array of noises, such as grinding, popping, and cracking.

One of the joints that is most associated with cracking (along with others such as the neck and knees) is the knuckle. Sometimes knuckles feel tight, so people try to get a release by cracking them. Many people worry, though, that it could cause arthritis.

Joint-cracking stats and methods

People often crack their knuckles because it temporarily alleviates wrist and hand pain, but of course no one wants to be fueling a chronic degenerative condition. According to various scientific findings, 25-54% of American adults say that they crack their knuckles regularly, with men doing so in especially high volume.

There are three basic ways in which people crack their knuckles: “bending them backward or forward, turning them sideways, or pulling on the bones around the joint,” according to Medical News Today. “While any joint can be popped, it is the knuckles of the fingers that are most commonly popped.”

Cracking your knuckles does not lead to arthritis

No matter how many times you may have heard that the habit is dangerous, the truth is that cracking your knuckles does not raise your risk of arthritis, but it could actually contribute to lifelong hand pain. Consider the following three studies:

1. Researchers found that people who cracked their knuckles weren’t likelier to develop arthritis than those who abstained. Nonetheless, they were more susceptible to two musculoskeletal issues: grip weakness and inflammation.

2. The study authors confirmed that risk of arthritis did not arise as a result of knuckle cracking but that the activity did make it likelier that the person would experience injuries, such as ligament damage or tendon dislocation.

3. In this unusual case study, Dr. Donald Unger used his left hand for the experiment and right hand as the control. The doctor presented his findings in a letter to Arthritis and Rheumatism after 50 years of cracking his knuckles – but only the left ones. Noting that he had cracked the knuckles on the experimental hand more than 36,000 times, Dr. Unger wrote that “There was no arthritis in either hand, and no apparent differences between the two hands.”

Getting help for hand pain

Are you suffering from the hand pain of osteoarthritis? If you think it’s because you cracked your knuckles for many years, that’s probably not the case. What matters, though, is your quality of life moving forward.

At Advanced Wellness and Rehab, we can help. Voted Wichita’s 2015 chiropractic “Patient’s Choice Winner” (via, we provide personalized and caring solutions. View our new patient offer.