Does cracking joints lead to Arthritis ? Busting Myths

Have you ever spent a long time with your fingers on the keyboard, cooking or driving, or any other activity which has been monotonous and you resorted to cracking your joints? Do you get temporary satisfaction?  While cracking joints can be relieving, they come with worries and concerns that they might cause damage to the joints or even cause arthritis. We are here to bust some myths about cracking joints!

The Truth Behind Cracking Joints

Cracking joints is a very common occurrence in individuals of all age groups, and is not necessarily a bad practice. It is a simple process of “cracking” joints, which produce a gentle sound, like that of air popping. It is often attributed to the release of nitrogen air, trapped between the joints. This is often harmless unless there is pain accompanied by the sound that is persistent.

In most cases, it is just the release of some of the gas that is trapped in the joints. It becomes a point of concern when the cracking causes various levels of pain that is persistent.

Will Cracking your Joints Cause Arthritis

The Big Question. Various studies conducted across the world do not point towards any evidence that cracking joints does indeed cause arthritis. However, pain followed by cracking joints, random bursts of pain, cracking of joints while moving around, etc could be markers of arthritis onset. However, there is no inherent proof that correlates cracking of joints with the causes of arthritis. It is important to identify the causes of arthritis such as health, age and genetics of the individual.

What Causes Joints and Knuckles to Crack

It is normal for cracking noises to be made sometimes while sudden sharp movements are made, as they are often a result of air or gasses being trapped in the joints being released. However, if there are degrees of pain that do not subside, then it could indicate an injury to the joint that might need more care and medical intervention.

It is often understood that nitrogen escapes from the joints when the joints are cracked. It can also be a result of synovial fluid fluctuations in  the joints, due to a change in pressure that causes this pop.

Besides this common reason, the other factors include injury, joint instability and tear in tendons and ligaments. These are often painful and can be caused due to other factors.

Is Cracking Knuckles Harmful

While most studies show that it is not necessarily harmful to the joints, and can be acts of impulse and breaking from a monotony, like any habit, it can get worse over time if not regulated. Since it involves “snapping” of joints, you must be mindful of the stress it can have on the tendons, ligaments and nerves in and around the joints. Too much cracking can result in injury to the joints. It can also be looked down upon in a social setting where people might find it uncomfortable.

Tips to Stop Cracking your Joints and breaking the habit

Cracking joints are often a sign of stress relieving or a habit that has picked up over time. It can be kept under control with a few tips, as mentioned below

It can be useful if you can identify the situations when cracking the joints are higher. This can help identify a stressor, and trying to treat that can help reduce the dependency on cracking the joints.

Mindful exercises and breathing techniques can be good alternatives to releasing stress. You can also figure out what works best for you through a series of trials and practices.

Replacing cracking with a squeezing a stress ball or an object can also help you understand how to stop cracking joints habit?