This Is What Happens When You Crack Your Fingers

Although stretching the joints stimulates the nerve endings in the area, the habit of cracking the fingers could lead to damage to the cartilage that covers the joint .

Cracking your fingers is a hobby that many people engage in frequently and several times a day. However, it has been said for many years that it could cause joint problems such as arthritis. Is this true?

This habit generates a type of pleasure when practiced and there are people who enjoy doing it several times a day without thinking about the possible risks. Read on to find out!

Why do fingers crack

Synovial fluid

Joints are the point where two bones meet and come together. All joints have an area called the joint capsule.

This is what protects the joints. In addition, it contains a natural lubricant called synovial fluid, which is necessary for joint movement. This liquid influences the famous “creak”, because inside this there is air, according to research.

The space in the joint capsule

By cracking the knuckles, the joint spreads and widens the space within the joint capsule. This in turn causes the dissolved gases to form bubbles to occupy the new space created.

By applying force to the knuckles, the bubbles formed quickly escape. It is then that the characteristic creaking sound arises.

After this creak, it is not possible to repeat the action at the moment. This happens because the joints must first return to their normal size and the gases must dissolve in the fluid. After about fifteen minutes, you may get that crunching sound again.

Crunch your fingers

Why do many people enjoy doing it?

Experts say that crunching your fingers can be a nervous habit. However, it can also be a habit that generates pleasure. In fact, by stretching the joints, the nerve endings in the area are stimulated.

It is popularly believed that between 25 and 54% of people have this habit. In addition, it is more common in men than in women, but there is no scientific evidence for either of the two data.

What happens when you crack your fingers

Many people have a bad habit of cracking their fingers frequently. This can cause discomfort to the people around them.

But crunching your fingers can lead to arthritis, joint instability, and loss of hand strength and function, although there are no studies or scientific research to support this fact. 

From a scientific point of view, crunching your fingers often over many years could cause damage to the cartilage that covers the joint. However, there is still not enough evidence to show that this habit can effectively damage circulation.

Studies in this regard

One of the best known studies in this regard is the one that won the Ig Nobel in 2009 (alternative prizes for unconventional scientific works). Donald Unger, a Californian doctor, cracked the knuckles on his left hand for 60 years.

He did it at least twice a day. He never did this with the knuckles of the right hand, only the ones on the left. He concluded that, after these years, there was no trace of arthritis.

In a larger investigation, conducted in Detroit in the 1990s, the hands of three hundred people over the age of 45 were analyzed. It was found that 84% of those with swelling in their hands used to crack their fingers.

However, the researchers were inconclusive. They could not find a direct relationship between this habit and the inflammations in the hands of these people.

Crunch your fingers

Anyway, the relationship is curious. It was precisely the people who frequently crunched their fingers in the past who experienced discomfort and inflammation.

For the founders of osteopathy, that signature creaking sound is a good thing. It would be a sign that the technique is being performed in the correct way. And, in fact, they consider that they have managed to modify a possible bad position of the bone.


The conclusions of the studies carried out over the years are divided. There are those who believe that this habit can cause damage to the joints and those who believe that there is no harm at all.

The truth is that there is a lack of scientific evidence that could link the crunching of the fingers with future cases of arthritis. At the moment, it is known that this disease is caused by genetics, age and hard work for many years.

How could creaks really be dangerous?

Finally, we put aside the unfinished issue of its relationship with the onset of arthritis. However, crunching your fingers may cause other damage. For example, injuries to the thumbs or sprains to the ligaments of the fingers, although these are few. If you have any discomfort in this area, do not hesitate to consult your doctor.

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