This Is What Actually Happens When You Crack Your Knuckles

#1 Let’s be honest, we’ve all done it

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We can’t really lie about it, can we? We’ve all done it at one time or another. When we’re bored. When we want to look intimidating. When we get cramps from writing too much. You know what it is: cracking your knuckles. Everyone does it and you shouldn’t be ashamed of it. However, you’ve probably heard people yell at you for doing it, saying it causes arthritis and things like that. You might have just shrugged that off, but how much of it is true? Luckily for you, science is here to put an end to this discussion once and for all – is cracking your knuckles bad for you, and what’s really going on when you do it?

#2. Some background on the study

Despite what movies and television might tell you, scientists are not just serious people. They can also be pretty goofy. One such goofy scientist was proposing a study behind the “pull my finger” phenomenon when he was approached by a fellow scientist to research what causes the knuckle cracking sound we all know and love. They hypothesized that the knuckle cracking or “popping” sound we’re familiar with is actually made by making or collapsing bubbles in joint fluid, making a sort-of vacuum. Greg Kawchuk, a professor at the University of Alberta, said: “As the joint surfaces suddenly separate, there is no more fluid available to fill the increasing joint volume, so a cavity is created, and that event is what’s associated with the sound.”

 

#3. How they researched it

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Using their handy MRI machine, the scientists were able to record what was happening in their subject’s knuckles in real time as he “cracked” or “popped” them. They found that the popping of your knuckles was creating or destroying bubbles in your joint fluid, creating an almost-vacuum that was responsible for the sound.

 

#4. What it means for everyone else

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Scientists aren’t too sure what this new discovery means for people in the rest of the world (that is, people who aren’t scientists), but they have a few guesses. Kawchuk says that the merely being able to crack your knuckles might be linked with joint health. Despite what everyone’s been saying, there has been no conclusive evidence that cracking or popping your knuckles hurts your joints at all. In fact, since simply being able to crack your knuckles shows joint health, it’s possible that this ability could be used as a way of discovering joint issues early on. So don’t listen to the naysayers – get cracking!

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