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Is Arthritis Linked to Cracking your Knuckles?

Cracking one’s knuckles has been a way for many to relieve stress and anxiety. However, this habit has been deemed as a direct pathway to causing arthritis, a disease characterized by joint pain. This disease obstructs joint movement as well as causes swelling and stiffness. In rare instances, arthritis may also affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys, and skin. Though cracking one’s knuckles does not cause arthritis, it has multiple other effects.

The belief about the association between cracking one’s knuckles and the risk of developing arthritis is a misconception. Cracking one’s knuckles does not associate with one’s risk for developing arthritis. In fact, several research studies have determined that this habit does not increase one’s risk for arthritis. Cracking knuckles solely compresses bubbles, which releases other nitrogen bubbles from the space around the joints. This process has multiple other effects, which does not lead to arthritis disease.

Even though cracking one’s knuckles does not cause arthritis, one should be cautioned of the other potential harmful effects of this habit. Some of these harmful effects may include reduced grip strength and temporary swelling in the fingers. These effects are exacerbated by daily knuckle cracking. This habit of cracking one’s knuckles may also be performed incorrectly, leading to more serious effects like ligament injury and finger dislocation. These potential effects of knuckle cracking show that this habit is not completely safe.

Cracking one’s knuckles is not associated with arthritis disease, but one should be cautioned that it is not a completely safe habit. Though many may like the sound or feeling of cracking one’s knuckles for relieving emotional distress, there are better ways of relieving stress and anxiety. Easy and fun ways to relieve anxiety or stress are through exercise, meditation, yoga, and journaling. These practices may help many reduce their emotional distress significantly, and they only need to be done once a day.



Does cracking knuckles cause arthritis? Harvard Medical School. 2020 July 6.

Huntsberry, S. Does Cracking Your Knuckles Cause Arthritis? Houston Methodist. 2020 June 8.


Rath, L. What Is Arthritis? Arthritis Foundation. 2022 June 9.


Stress management. Mayo Clinic. 2021 March 18.


Why You Shouldn’t Crack Your Knuckles. NIH. 2021 Jan 26.

Will Cracking Your Knuckles Lead to Arthritis? Cleveland Clinic. 2021 March 19.


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