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Cracking The Code: Understanding Why Your Joints Snap, Pop, and Crack

You may hear a popping sound in your joints when you move, but why does it happen?

While at times this can be a bit of a concern, most times cracking your joints is just relaxing – and that’s all. Bending your fingers in different positions, just to pop that little bubble in it. 

But is it the sound of one of your bones breaking? Or is it a crack that is getting bigger with every movement we make?

Here you will understand why our bones make that cracking sound when we walk, stand, and bend our fingers.

1. Why Do Our Bones Crack So Much?

Why do my bones crack so much?
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All these joints in your body that are bendable are called ‘Synovial Joints’. There is a thin layer of smooth and strong articular cartilage which covers our joint surfaces.

In order to separate the two bone surfaces, we have a fluid in between called the Synovial fluid. This joint fluid is slippery which ensures that the friction produced by rubbing these bones is low and enables our body to move freely. In simple words, it acts as a soft cushion between the two bones. So that we move our joints in any direction, we want without any problem.

This Synovial fluid contains Hyaluronic acid and Lubricin which are two essential lubricating molecules. It also contains another important thing that cleans up any bones or cartilage waste that ends up between the joint, known as Phagocytic cells.

So when you crack your knuckles to make that satisfying pop sound, you also increase the gap between the two bones more than usual. This creates low-pressure zones, where dissolved gases in the form of tiny nitrogen bubbles come out of the fluid. When the joints pop, the gas bubbles take some time to dissolve back into the fluid. That’s why you can’t pop your joints right after doing it once.

2. Myths Related to Joint Cracking

Myths related to joint cracking
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Let us unravel some myths that our parents said to use. Sometimes they just didn’t like the sound of the cracking joints. So they make up certain myths to make us stop doing it. Here are some of them.

2.1 Too Much Knuckle Cracking Can Cause Arthritis

To be honest, there is no such scientific study that can back up this claim. But there is an experiment done by Dr. Donald L. Unger from California in which he cracked the knuckles of his left hand twice a day for 50 years.

While the right hand’s knuckles were never cracked even once. After 50 years, he concluded that neither of his hands developed any kind of arthritis. He even went on to win a Nobel Prize for busting this myth.

2.2 Cracking Your Knuckles Can Lead to Bigger Knuckles

There is no medical evidence that can prove that cracking your knuckles can enlarge the size of it. But if you notice any kind of swelling or pain, then you need to consult a doctor or an orthopedic specialist. That’s because you might have put too much pressure on your knuckles and dislocated your finger.

2.3 It Can Become Addictive

It might not become an addiction. But it can become a habit. People tend to crack their joints when they feel stressed or when the muscles are too tight. Popping some joints can relieve that stiffness and stress.

3. Dangers Related to Bone Cracking

Dangers related to bone cracking
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When you are trying to crack the joints in your neck, you should be very careful. As there are chances for you to have serious issues. These issues can vary from having vertigo by pushing a nerve in your neck to snapping your neck. There are a number of cases, where applying too much pressure on your neck to crack it causes serious health concerns.

If you continuously crack your bones every now and then, then there are chances for the Synovial fluid to deplete over the period of time. If it happens, there are chances for you to get Arthritis.

4. How Many Joints Can We Pop In Our Body?

So the number of joints one can crack varies from individual to individual. Some may be able to crack all their finger joints, while some won’t be able to bend their thumb to get that pop sound.

But cracking joints in any part of our body shouldn’t be a difficult task. Such joints are located in our knees, spine, shoulders, elbows, and even hips. But one should be very careful when cracking the joints located in our spine and neck. Applying too much pressure or the wrong technique can cause long-lasting damage to our tissues or bones.

Currently, Olle Lundin from Sweden, holds the world record for cracking 46 different joints consecutively in his body.

5. FAQs

5.1 How do I stop my bones from cracking so much?

Now after reading this article on why my bones crack so much, you would want to know how to stop doing it. So, in order to stop yourself from cracking your joints, you need to relieve your stress in other ways.

You can use stress balls, which can help you reduce your stress by contracting your nerves and muscles. Then you can try moving more, which means when you sit in the same position for a longer period of time. Your body tends to become tight, so in order to loosen them a bit try taking small breaks to move your body.

While sitting, always keep your back straight to ensure maintaining a good posture while you work. You can also try exercises like swimming, stretching, cycling, and squats for better results.

5.2 Should I be worried if my bones crack a lot?

There is no need to worry about joints or bones cracking a lot until it starts to pain or swelling. As it’s normal for your body to make these cracking sounds, as the cartilage cushion, also called Synovial fluid wears down.

But when you accidentally apply too much pressure on it than needed, then it causes your bone to dislocate. Normally cracking your joints shouldn’t cause pain, but if it does then you should consult a doctor. As it can make it difficult to perform certain movements.

Last Updated on December 22, 2023 by