Is cracking a finger harmful?
Finger snapping is a common behavior that many people enjoy. Some people snap their fingers when stressed or bored, while others do it out of habit. Health…
Is Cracking Your Knuckles Bad For You? | Earth Lab
Is cracking a finger harmful?
Finger snapping is a common behavior that many people enjoy. Some people snap their fingers when stressed or bored, while others do it out of habit. There are many myths about finger snapping, the most common being that it can cause arthritis. However, there is no scientific evidence to show that snapping fingers can cause arthritis. There is also no evidence to suggest that finger snapping can weaken joints.
Why Do People Crack Knuckles?
Studies have shown that most people crack their fingers regularly. Reasons people crack their fingers include:
- Tension: Like curling your hair or rubbing your hands, knuckling your knuckles is a common way to keep your hands busy when you’re feeling nervous.
- Loving the Sound It Makes: Many people enjoy listening to knuckle cracking sounds.
- Stress: Many people with stress want to snap their fingers. This gives them a distraction and they feel relieved of their stress without harming anything.
- How It Feels: Many people think that cracking the knuckles actually creates more room in the joint, thereby reducing tension and increasing mobility. However, there is no evidence that any vacuum has been created, even though it feels like a vacuum.
- Habit: Many people develop a habit of snapping their fingers. Whatever the reason, you start to crack your knuckles, but it’s easy to keep doing it without thinking, up to a point. When you unconsciously start cracking your knuckles several times a day, you know it has become a habit. People who crack their knuckles five or more times a day are known as habitual knuckle crackers.
What Makes a Pop Sound When You Crack Your Joints?
As mentioned above, many people like to listen to the crackling sound when you pull your knuckles. The reason why the joint makes this cracking sound is not fully understood. For a long time it was believed that this cracking sound is caused by nitrogen bubbles forming or collapsing in the joint fluid. Another belief was that the ligaments around the joint were made up of movements.
A study was conducted in which the joints were cracked under MRI. On MRI, a gap was observed due to the negative pressure created by the rapid separation of the joint. The researchers determined that the cracking sound is produced by the formation of this cavity. But they could not find an explanation for why the loudness of the voice was caused.
In another study, it was suggested that the cracking sound was caused by the partial collapse of the cavity. Various studies were reviewed and it was found that it takes about 20 minutes for the cavity to completely collapse for a new cavity to form. This is also believed to be the reason why, once the knuckles are snapped, it is not possible to immediately repeat it.
Are There Any Side Effects of Cracking Your Joints?
In general, cracking your joints shouldn’t be a painful exercise. It should not cause swelling or any shape change in the joint. If you experience any of these symptoms when you crack your knuckles, it could be an indication of another problem. In very rare cases, you may manage to pull the finger off the joint or cause serious injury to the ligaments around the joints. If you notice that your joints are swollen or sore when you crackle, it’s most likely due to an underlying medical condition such as gout or arthritis.
How to Stop Cracking Your Joints
While snapping your fingers is unlikely to harm you, it can be distracting and uncomfortable for the people around you. If it becomes a habit, you may find it difficult to quit.
Here are some tips that can help you break the knuckle habit:
- If you’re cracking your knuckles to relieve stress, alternative solutions such as exercise, meditation, or deep breathing can be tried.
- Think about why you broke your joints and deal with any underlying issues that arise.
- Try to be aware of the times you crack your knuckles and consciously try to stop yourself.
- Engage your hands with other stress relievers like using a stress ball or rubbing a worry stone.
- Try wearing a rubber band on your wrist and wear the band when you’re about to crack your knuckles.
It won’t hurt to crack your knuckles. It should also not cause pain, swelling, or change in the shape of the joint. If any of these occur you should be checked out by a doctor.
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