Crackle Knuckles

Client question:

“Will I form arthritis early if I crack my knuckles?”

As the old myth goes: “cracking your knuckles will form arthritis.”  Happily, this is, in fact, a Myth! 


However, there are a few things you should know about cracking your joints:

  1. Researchers say that the pressure in our knuckles is simply nitrogen gas bubbles from our body, getting stuck in the joints.  This can happen with any of the joints in our bodies, but our hands and toes are more sensitive to the pressure. 
  2. The Cracking sound may not be your joints at all.  It could be your tendons were out of alignment and literally snapped back into place with the adjustment of a joint.
  3. According to a WebMD article: If there’s pain associated with the adjustment of joint, there could be an underlying injury.  Personal note: If this happens frequently, go see a doctor to make sure you don’t have any problems in the ligaments or joints around the area.





“My Massage Therapist does this stretch that will crack my fingers and toes.  Can I do this on myself?  And is it better for my joints?”

This stretch is simply pulling the bones out of the joint temporarily, then allowing the bones to slip back into the joint.

Simply grab one of your fingers/toes and pull on it, away from your hand/ foot.  Some people may be able to feel the joints come out of place, but there is no damage done here.  Our fingers and toes are so flexible, they have the ability to slide the bones and tendons back into their proper place.

Sometimes, the joints will make that crack sound, and sometimes they won’t.  It all depends on the synovial fluid and air bubbles in the joint at the time.

Is this stretch better for your hands and feet?  Personal note: I believe so, as I use this stretch for people who have arthritis.  With arthritis, I first move the synovial fluid around inside the joints, by rubbing in a circle around each knuckle.  After that, I can do this pull stretch.  Do NOT do this if the person has rheumatoid arthritis.  The inflammation makes this stretch ineffective and can cause pain.


Personal note: I had an older client that had terrible pain in their toes from arthritis.  Walking was difficult on some days.  While I was visiting them, I asked if they would like me to try easing the pain a little.  After I did this stretch, the pain had diminished by half and they could walk again.  Of course, the relief was temporary, but it was enough to make that client’s day a little better.   


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