Is popping my knuckles bad for me?

According to Anatomy and Physiology Instructors' Cooperative, there has only been one in-depth study regarding the possible detriments of knuckle popping. This study, published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, took an in-depth look at 300 knuckle crackers for evidence of joint damage. Results revealed no apparent connection between someone cracking his joints and arthritis; however, habitual knuckle crackers did show signs of other damage, including soft tissue damage in the joint capsule and a decrease in grip strength. The damage is most likely a result of the rapid and repeated stretching of the ligaments surrounding the joint. Professional baseball pitchers experience similar effects in various joints of the pitching arm. Assuming you haven't signed a multimillion dollar contract to repeatedly pop your knuckles, the habit hardly seems worth doing with the possible risk to your joints.

On the plus side, there is evidence of increased mobility in joints immediately after popping. When joints are manipulated, the Golgi tendon organs (sets of nerve endings involved in humans' motion) are stimulated and the muscles surrounding those joints are relaxed. This is part of the reason people feel "loose" and invigorated after leaving a chiropractor's office. Backs, knees, elbows and every other movable joint are subject to the same manipulation as knuckles.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.