The world is divided into two groups of people: those who cringe when they hear the popping of knuckles, and those who pop their knuckles with pure joy. We get questions for our patients all the time if their beloved popping of joints is going to cause them permanent damage or not.
Researchers from the University of Alberta completed a study on popping the joints of your fingers and found that the popping sound was likely caused by the collapsing of air bubbles that had formed within the synovial fluid inside of our joints. The popping or cracking sound occurs due to the chain in pressure within the fluid.
Researchers from UC Davis found that there was no immediate pain, swelling, or damage being done to the joints that were popped, and could find no difference in the health of the joints over time between people who regularly popped their joints and those that didn’t.
That being said, if you experience pain when you pop or crack your joints -that’s when you should see a PT! We can help you normalize the joint mobility of the joints that you pop the most so that you may not experience the build up of pressure within the joint that leads you to pop in the first place. We can also help to build the muscular stability surrounding the joint to ensure that the joint is supported and stable.
So if you’re on the pro-popping side of this hot debate, this is good news! If you’re horrified by the sound when your friends and family pop their joints, we apologize, but it looks like the popping will be around for a while longer.