Cracking your knuckles makes you sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies and never goes over well in church. While it's painful for everyone around you to hear, you're not doing any harm to your joints, bones, or muscles when you crack-unless it hurts when you crack them. It's just caused by the high-pressure suction of gas being expelled when your joints move apart. If it hurts when your knuckles or knees crack, you need to see your doctor to assess what kind of joint damage you may have.
Arthritis Causes & Risks
1 AnswerArthritis is not just a disease that affects older people. Two-thirds of individuals with arthritis are under the age of 65, including an estimated 300,000 children. Of the more than 50 million Americans with arthritis, more than 36 million are white, more than 4.6 million are African-American and 2.9 million are Hispanic, says the Arthritis Foundation.
Moreover, arthritis is not just about common aches and pains.
Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is a degenerative joint disease marked by the breakdown of joint cartilage. Its risk factors include obesity, being overweight or having a history of joint injury. Symptoms of osteoarthritis most often develop gradually and include:
- joint aching and soreness, especially with movement
- pain after overuse or after long periods of inactivity
- stiffness after periods of rest
- bony enlargements in the middle and end joints of the fingers (which may or may not be painful)
- joint swelling
Juvenile arthritis is a broad term used to describe many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that can develop in children ages 16 and younger.
1 AnswerDr. Grant Cooper, MD , Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, answeredPeople who are obese have a significantly increased risk of developing arthritis, because obesity is an important source of chronic microtrauma to the cartilage. Joints are designed for carrying, properly distributing, and cushioning body weight. They are also capable of taking on temporary excess loads. For example, stress on the joints is greatly increased when we carry groceries, lift weights, bend over, or run up stairs. However, joints do have limits.
Each step you take while walking involves temporarily transferring your weight primarily onto one joint. When you factor in momentum, biomechanics, and gravity, your knees and hips experience up to three times as much pressure as your body weight with each step. If you weigh 140 pounds, your knee joints may experience as much as 320 pounds of weight with each step. When you walk down a flight of stairs, your hip and knee joints may experience as much as a six-fold increase in weight, so that same 140-pound person experiences as much as 640 pounds across the knees and hips.
In other words, every pound you gain punishes your joints up to six-fold. Research clearly bears this out; overweight men are five times more likely to develop arthritis, and overweight women are four times more likely to develop it than are their non-overweight counterparts. For every 10 pounds of excess weight gain, the risk of developing arthritis increases by 40 percent. Every time you take a step, the extra weight places increased pressure on your weight-bearing joints, because the load is too great for your muscles, ligaments, and tendons. The joints shift under the weight and, ultimately, they are overwhelmed, resulting in repetitive microtears in the cartilage. Additional stresses are taken up by static portions of your bone, creating friction. Your bone responds by trying to build new bone, but the new bone is weaker than the original bone, and the process of arthritis is well on its way.
1 AnswerDr. Christopher W. Hodgkins, MD , Orthopedic Surgery, answered on behalf of Baptist Health South FloridaIn arthritis of the midfoot, the joints of the midfoot can begin to wear out for a variety of reasons. If they are injured by a fall, a twist or a crush accident, progressive degeneration of the joints can begin. Sometimes an individual’s foot anatomy places more pressure on one portion of the foot, causing a joint to wear. In addition, small amounts of loosening of the joints or slight flattening of the foot can begin the degeneration toward arthritis.
3 AnswersAlberta Scruggs , Nutrition & Dietetics, answered
Everyone is different and may / may not experience aggravation from the intake of a particluar food. However, studies indicate the following foods tend to trigger arthritis and fibromyalgia:
- Acidic ("nightshade") foods seem to trigger pain: Chocolate, tomato, potato, eggplant, peppers, red meat, sugar, carbonated drinks and drinks containing alcohol.
- Fried foods may aggravate pain and swelling.
- Caffeinated containing foods have the potential to increase the elimination of water that may be needed by your body to help flush away toxins and minimize episodes of swelling.
- Cow-milk products may trigger increased episodes of fatigue.
- Foods with added sugar tend to compromise the ability of your body to absorb essential vitamins and mineral.
1 AnswerNot all patients get severe hip arthritis. Typically this is a degenerative disease of elderly individuals. Individuals who have had sports injuries to the hip while younger are at increased risk. Childhood hip deformities and conditions predispose individuals to later develop hip arthritis. Obesity has shown to be a significant risk factor for hip arthritis. Recent research also indicates that there is a genetic component to the degenerative wear of cartilage which might predispose some individuals to hip arthritis more so than others.
1 AnswerDr. Grant Cooper, MD , Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, answeredIn addition to the mechanical forces created by obesity, it may also contribute to arthritis through hormonal influences that are not yet clearly understood. Studies have found a strong link between obesity and arthritis of the hip and knee, with a weaker link between obesity and arthritis of the hand. Since the hand does not experience significantly increased mechanical pressures in obesity, and because it is not a significant weight-bearing joint, other factors may also be at work, such as hormonal differences. Estrogen levels are increased in obesity, in addition to other hormonal imbalances.
1 AnswerDr. Christopher W. Hodgkins, MD , Orthopedic Surgery, answered on behalf of Baptist Health South Florida
Big toe arthritis is a degenerative condition that affects the joint at the bottom of the big toe, called the metatarsophalangeal joint. When cartilage wears down in the metatarsophalangeal joint, the raw bone ends can rub together. The condition, big toe arthritis, can result from many factors, including differences in foot anatomy that increase the stress on the joint, such as fallen arches, rheumatoid arthritis and past injuries that may have damaged the articular cartilage.
1 AnswerDr. Thomas P. San Giovanni, MD , Orthopedic Surgery, answered on behalf of Baptist Health South FloridaThe ankle joint is subjected to more weight-bearing force per square centimeter than any other joint in the body. Hindfoot arthritis can result from trauma such as fractures, inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or related conditions such as tibialis posterior tendinosis. While trauma and/or abnormal ankle mechanics are the most common causes of degenerative changes, obesity and excessive or repetitive motion may also contribute