Knucke Cracking May Not Cause Arthritis

One of the hallmarks of arthritis is a reduction of the cartilage in the joint space.

This study compared habitual knuckle crackers with non-knuckle crackers.  The looked at the thickness of their finger cartilage and hand grip strength.

They found the opposite of what you might think.  The habitual knuckle crackers actually hand thicker joint cartilage than the non-knuckle crackers at the end of the study.  Both groups had about the same grip strength as well.

Hand Surgery and Rehabilitation

Available online 11 October 2016

M.T. Yildizgören

Joint cracking involves a manipulation of the finger joints resulting in an audible crack. This study aimed to determine whether habitual knuckle cracking (KC) leads to an alteration in grip strength and metacarpal head (MH) cartilage thickness. Thirty-five habitual knuckle crackers (cracking their joints ≥5 times/day) (20 M, 15 F, aged 19–27 years) and 35 age-, gender-, and body mass index-matched non-crackers were enrolled in the study. MH cartilage thickness was measured with ultrasound and grip strength was measured with an analog Jamar hand dynamometer. Grip strength was similar between groups (P > 0.05). Habitual knuckle crackers had thicker MH cartilage in the dominant and non-dominant hands than those of the controls (P = 0.038 and P = 0.005, respectively). There was no correlation between MH cartilage thickness and grip strength in both groups (P > 0.05). While habitual KC does not affect handgrip strength, it appears to be associated with increased MH cartilage thickness.

Journal Abstract