You’re most likely one of two people — someone who cracks their knuckles or someone who can’t stand hearing other people do it.
If you’re a fan of the habit, you’ve probably heard several warnings that you’re basically destroying your joints and increasing your chances of arthritis later on. But how true are those claims? A new video, released by Vox, has all the answers.
In between your joints is a liquid called synovial fluid, which forms a gas when joints are stretched out. The cracking noise results when bubbles (which are created by the gas) pop.
To get to the bottom of the safety of knuckle cracking, Vox referred to a study. For 60 years, a doctor named Donald Unger popped the knuckles on his left hand, and never popped his right hand’s knuckles, to see if he developed arthritis in his left hand. After his decades-long research, he concluded cracking knuckles doesn’t cause arthritis after all.
Meanwhile, a 25-year-old study linked knuckle cracking to “decreased hand function,” but there hasn’t been any follow-up studies or research since then. So, as Vox concludes, the noisy habit may annoy those around you, but it’s probably not all that bad for the knuckle cracker.