True or False: Cracking Your Knuckles Makes Your Hands Ugly?

We've been told that this (somewhat) cringe-worthy habit can cause us serious harm, from broken bones to arthritis. Good news - not quite!

If you’re not a knuckle cracker, you probably know someone who is. And when the bone snapping session begins, chances are either you or someone else will yell, “Stop — that’s so bad for you!”

But is it?

The inquisitive editors at Details magazine decided to explore this health myth…and they uncovered some noteworthy information.

According to Dr. Pedro K. Beredjiklian, chief of hand surgery at The Rothman Institute, it’s not so damaging after all.

In the moment you crack, what you’re actually doing is decreasing the pressure inside a capsule of your knuckle — a capsule that is filled with a natural fluid that surrounds each joint. The cracking sound is the result of gas (like carbon dioxide, nitrogen or oxygen) being released. The writer compares it to opening a bottle of champagne. Pop!

And the reason it can feel good is because it stretches the joints and stimulates the nerve endings for a maximum of 30 minutes. And as anyone who has ever been to a chiropractor knows, the best feeling during the entire adjustment is when he/she snaps your neck in both directions. Aaahh…exhale and release!

In fact, back in 2009, a doctor named Donald L. Unger won an Ig Noble Prize in medicine for his 60 plus-year study on this very topic. Dr. Unger spent the majority of his life cracking away on his left hand, leaving the right hand cracked-free. How was his left hand in old age? Zero damage.

Now, there is always a rare case (or two) when someone somehow does get hurt, and this knuckle cracking issue is no different. “A few reports have linked knuckle cracking to sprain-type injuries and the formation of growths on the back of the joints, he (Dr. Beredjiklian ) says,” according to the Details article, as reported by “But those problems are exceptionally rare and probably not reason enough to break your nervous habit.”

Many years ago, I was told that cracking my knuckles would make my knuckles, along with my fingers and my hands, to become manly big. And ever since that day, I have worried waking up one morning to find Sylvester Stallone's hands attached to the my wrists.

Well, there’s one more fear I can cross off the list.

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