The Real Reason You're Addicted To Cracking Your Knuckles

Why it feels so good.

Why Do People Crack Their Knuckles? The Real Reason You're Addicted To Cracking Your Knuckles Getty Images

I’m a total hypocrite when it comes to knuckle cracking.

I literally shudder every time I hear the pop from someone close by.

Yet, I crack my own pretty frequently and the sound does not bother me. 

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I’ve heard (and said) all the common phrases about knuckle cracking:


“Your hands are going to wind up disfigured.”

“You’re totally going to get arthritis if you keep cracking.”


So, why do people crack their knuckles and what does it all mean?

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A chiropractor out of San Diego, Dr. Ryan Curda, and a physical therapist from New York City, Dr. Scott Weiss, say that those of us who crack our knuckles don’t have too much to worry about. 


“Knuckling cracking is the audible sound that occurs when the joints of your fingers are stretched.

 These joints are called synovial joints and are surrounded by a fluid-filled capsule.” The fluid acts as a lubricant and is made of mostly nitrogen, a dissolved gas.

Is it just me or does cracking your knuckles sound more like a sexual act with that knowledge drop? 

Pulling or bending your fingers actually decreases the pressure inside the fluid-filled capsule; that crack you hear is actually a nitrogen bubble popping.



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It also takes about 20 minutes for the fluid to refill, which is why you can’t crack the same spot over and over. Who knew our bodies had such strict time frames?


What makes us actually want to crack our knuckles?

According to Dr. Weiss, “Aside from some degree of compulsion, cracking the knuckles actually releases several pounds of pressure from the joints.” So THAT’s why I feel such relief after doing it!



A post shared by Jordyn Bain, MScPT (@wpg_physio) on Feb 24, 2020 at 6:43am PST

The best part about this bad habit is that all those old wives tales of causing damage to your hand are not true. At least, there’s no scientific evidence yet to back up the claim, so we can feel free to continue popping bubbles in our joints.


Just don’t do it near me, OK?

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Liza Walter is a love and entertainment writer.