Study Shows Cracking Your Knuckles May Actually Be Good For You

My grandma used to tell me that eating bread crust would help me whistle. She also told me cracking my knuckles would give me arthritis. Turns out grandma was wrong. I ate a whole bunch of crust and still can’t whistle, and now science has poked holes in her arthritis theory, too.

A study presented at the Radiological Society of North America annual meeting suggests knuckle-cracking may just be the sound of pressure being released from the joint.

Robert D. Boutin, M.D., professor of radiology at University of California, Davis (UC Davis) Health System, and a team of researchers gathered a group of 40 adults—30 of whom identified themselves as habitual knuckle-crackers. They then used an ultrasound to take a look at participants’ knuckle-cracking in real time. What they observed is that the cracking sound is related to a gas bubble popping in the joint.

Good news for knuckle-crackers

Physical examinations of the participants post-crack revealed no immediate pain, swelling or disability, and no immediate difference in grip strength between the participants who cracked their knuckles and those who didn’t. And, according to CNN, the UC Davis study found that knuckles that had just been cracked actually had an increased range of motion compared to those left uncracked. In other words, there may actually be a benefit to cracking your knuckles.

Several earlier studies have also discredited the idea that cracking knuckles leads to arthritis, according to Harvard Health Publications. While this is a win for knuckle-crackers, Dr. Boutin admits further research will need to be done to assess any long-term hazard or benefit of knuckle-cracking.

So why are all the grannys hating?

Dr. Greg Kawchuk, a rehabilitative medicine specialist at the University of Alberta, told CNN he may have an idea, based on his own knuckle-cracking study.

“It’s just my personal opinion, but I got the feeling that some of these people felt so grossed out by it that they created these myths,” he said.

Sounds like grandma has some explaining to do.


Photo by orijinal