ZocdocAnswersIf you crack your knuckles too much will it damage them?

Question

If you crack your knuckles too much will it damage them?

I crack my knuckles all of the time and do the same kind of thing to my neck and my back. Does this damage them? My boyfriend seems to think I will end up with the bones and joints of an old lady if I keep it up.

Answer

The noise that is generated when you crack your knuckles (or neck or back) is due to a phenomenon called cavitation. Basically, what happens is that when you move your joints quickly, the fluid inside the joint space is displaced, creating a small vacuum which causes little bubbles to form. These bubbles quickly burst, causing the popping noise. Although it is a common perception that cracking your knuckles (or other joints in your body) can lead to the development of arthritis and joint inflammation, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest this. Therefore, there should be no reason to worry about the ill health effects of cracking your joints. On the other hand, if your joints crack unintentionally, or if you notice that there is stiffness or pain in your joints, then these might be signs that you are developing arthritis or another joint problem, and you should talk to your primary care doctor about this. Good luck!

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.