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A Doctor Cracked His Own Knuckles for 60 Years to Prove It Doesn’t Cause Arthritis

In a one-person experiment that may bring a chuckle to some, a California doctor spent 60 years cracking his knuckles to see if knuckle cracking causes arthritis. To have a proper comparison, the doctor cracked only the knuckles on his left hand — and concluded after six decades that both hands had acquired arthritis at equal levels. His “study,” which basically turned an old wives’ tale on its head, earned him the Ig Nobel Prize for Medicine, an award that parodies the real Nobel Prize, Business Insider said.

The popping sound of knuckles cracking may not be the most earth-shattering problem around, (unless you’re one who can’t stand the sound of it), but it’s still intriguing. It’s the influx of synovial fluid that actually causes the popping sound and the subsequent feeling knuckle-crackers get when it happens.

If you have osteoarthritis, you probably already know that the cartilage within your joints is progressively being damaged, and the synovial fluid is typically reduced as well. The pain and joint stiffness that you feel is a result of your bones starting to come into contact with each other as cartilage and synovial fluid diminishes. But still, research shows that, like this one-man study found, there is no correlation between knuckle cracking and osteoarthritis in your hands.

One precaution, though: If you’re not in the habit of cracking your joints and you still hear an unusual popping sound, it might not be due to your joints cracking at all. Such noises may also come from your tendons, which keep your muscles attached to your bones, and ligaments, which connect your bones.

Another caution: Joint cracking shouldn’t be confused with crepitus, which is the grinding or clicking sound that occurs when a joint with worn cartilage moves. So, if your joints crack for no reason, especially if it’s in places other than your hands, a good option for preventing it is exercise, which can significantly improve joint function and even lessen joint pain, as evidence points to exercise having a positive impact on joint tissues.

If you crack your knuckles and you’re bothered by it because you can’t seem to stop it, I suggest trying the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), which is a powerful self-help method that is very effective for regular stress management as well as for breaking all kinds of addictions, including knuckle cracking.
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