Do you have the annoying habit of cracking your knuckles? You may be wondering if it’s dangerous… Here is the answer from Dr. Gérald Kierzek, emergency physician and medical director of TipsForWomens.
You might do it, or you might know someone who cracks their knuckles. What are the risks associated with this practice?
How are joints formed?
The joints are all made up of certain anatomical elements:
- Cartilage, covering the bones facing each other;
- Synovial fluid, used to lubricate and protect the joint;
- A joint capsule, a sort of fibrous envelope which delimits the edges of the joint.
Nearby, we find ligaments, blood and lymphatic vessels…
Finger cracking, a story of pressure
With each movement of the joint, the synovial fluid undergoes changes in pressure and volume. “The cracking sound, called cavitation, is linked to this change in pressure when we make a rapid or a little more forceful movement than usual. The negative pressure creates a gas bubble, this is when- there the characteristic “pop” is heard. And in the synovial fluid, many small gas bubbles form” explains Dr. Gérald Kierzek, emergency physician and medical director of TipsForWomens.
The synovial fluid, under negative pressure from the joint, creates a gas bubble, this is when the cracking will be heard.
Is it dangerous for health?
“There is no long-term risk of fracture or osteoarthritis” reassures Dr. Kierzek. And even if you like to crack your joints all day, it is not possible to reproduce the noise several times consecutively. A refractory period of several minutes (around twenty minutes, on average) must be flow, during which there is no possibility of new cracking. This is due to the explosion of the gas bubble, which creates several dozen smaller ones. During the time when they will agglomerate again, no cracking will be possible.
Finally, pay attention to abnormal cracking of the body’s joints, which would be accompanied by severe pain, and which have nothing to do with the phenomenon described. If this happens to you, you should consult a doctor quickly.