Do you recognize the sound if you pop or crack your joints, you probably do. What happens to our joints when we crack them? And is it bad for you?
Synovial fluid is a lubricant like substance that's found in between your joints. It kind of looks like an egg yolk. So when you stretch out your joint, you are releasing gas and gas forms the bubble and it collapses and pops. In order to crack the same knuckle again, you have to wait about 20 minutes for the gas to return back to that fluid.
So how is that different from a pop you hear when you stand up quickly? The sound you're probably hearing then is the snapping sound tendons make when they slide between muscles and are over the bones. When a joint moves, the tendon snaps quickly over it and it makes a popping sound.
Is the knuckle cracking habit safe? Probably. Donald Unger was sort of a self-described researcher who chose to pop the joints in one of his hands for 60 years, but not the other one. He wanted to find out if popping your knuckles would actually give you arthritis.
After 60 years of doing it, he found that he didn't have any more arthritis in one hand than in the other. Most medical sources agree with his findings, but there's still a chance it's not good for you.
One 1990 study did find that cracking your knuckles over a long period of time led to hand swelling and decreased grip strength. But there hasn't been any follow up research on that. So while cracking your knuckles might not be bad for you, there's still no guarantee that your cracking your knuckles won't annoy the people around you.
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