Few habits are as controversial as knuckle cracking. Some experts have suggested the activity is harmful and may lead to arthritis, while other experts refuted the argument, saying knuckle cracking is neither beneficial nor harmful to your health. Now, emerging research is suggesting that even though the link to arthritis has been largely debunked, there may be other alarming side effects linked to knuckle cracking.
Individuals with preexisting conditions and those who frequently crack their knuckles may be at an increased risk for degenerating cartilage and impairing hand function over time, according to experts in an article shared on the Advisory Board.
When individuals “crack” their knuckles, they’re causing a gas bubble to form and “pop” in their synovial fluid, which is responsible for the familiar noise associated with the habit. While no bones or joints are actually being cracked, frequent knuckle cracking will result in repetitive trauma to the joints and cartilage in your hands, which may lead to significant damage. Certain inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may increase the risk of damage due to knuckle cracking.
Since it may take time to feel the effects of the damage, medical professionals suggest kicking the habit now to prevent worsening problems in the future.