Dispelling the Myth Regarding Arthritis and Cracking Your Knuckles

Ellen Scharaga studied pharmaceutical sciences at St. John’s University in New York, graduating with a bachelor of science. As an operational consultant with Alegria Specialty Pharmacy, Ellen Scharaga offers support in the development and delivery of medications used to treat a broad array of chronic conditions, from arthritis to HIV.

Arthritis is a medical condition characterized by inflammation of one or multiple joints in the body. Pain and stiffness rank among its most common symptoms. Arthritis is one of the most frequently diagnosed health problems in the United States, where more than 40 million individuals live with the condition. Globally, the conditions impacts approximately 350 million. Considering the prevalence of arthritis, it is important to dispel common myths, including one widely shared assertion that cracking one’s knuckles is a risk factor for arthritis of the hands and fingers.

In reality, there is no medical evidence or research to support this long held belief. A series of studies, as reported by Harvard University, found no link between knuckle cracking and arthritis. The cracking or popping sound created by cracking one’s joints occurs when bubbles burst in the synovial fluid, which is used for joint lubrication, lending some apparent credence to the belief. While the habit may not in fact lead to arthritis, studies have found a possible connection to decreased grip strength. Furthermore, individuals have reported injuries as a direct result of cracking their knuckles.