ZocdocAnswersIs cracking one's bones bad?

Question

Is cracking one's bones bad?

Is it true that cracking your joints can give you arthritis or otherwise damage your joint? I'm a middle-aged guy and I've been cracking my knuckles since I was a kid, but I'm starting to worry more about my bone and joint health, and would like a serious answer to this question.

Answer

Classically, physicians have discourage cracking of knuckles and despite studies that have been done on the topic, you will still find physicians that ask their patients not to do it. However, there is no evidence weak or strong that supports the notion that cracking of ones knuckles results in arthritis. There is also no real evidence that cracking your joints can damage them in any real way. The one large study that was done showed that habitual knuckle crackers did not have any increased risk of getting any type of joint arthritis over non knuckle crackers. There is a theory that cracking your knuckles may be healthy for them, but this notion is not backed by any evidence either. With that said, certainly any manipulation of your joints that is painful or results in swelling or stiffness should be avoided. The best physician for you to discuss this issue with is your primary care physician (family doctor or internal medicine doctor). He or she will be able to give you the best advice that takes your past medical history into account. Even if you do not have joint pain, then your doctor will likely recommend that you do not crack your knuckles just like your doctor would advise you not to bite your fingernails.

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

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