Don’t Worry! Knuckle popping noise comes from air cavity, not Arthritis

Scientists have finally found out the reason behind cracking of knuckles. For over five decades people have assumed that joint cracking, an action that is painful for some and relieving for others, takes place when alteration of pressure within the targeted joint results in popping up of gas bubbles. This alteration of pressure usually occurs due pulling or bending of joints.

An international research team, however, has come up with an absolutely different reason behind knuckle cracks. An Australian scientist, who happens to be a member of this team, used MRI or magnetic resonance imaging for watching the entire event of knuckle cracking in real time. The MRI report had enough evidence to prove the earlier theory of knuckle cracks wrong.

The researchers found that collapsing gas bubbles have nothing to do with knuckle cracks. The MRI report showed that when someone’s fingers are pulled gently for forcing a joint crack, a small pocket or “cavity” of air is formed that stays within the joint. The entire event took place within around 310 milliseconds.

The leader of the team Gregory Kawchuk, when explaining the MRI report, said that when the surfaces of a joint separate suddenly, there’s no more fluid left for filing the augmenting joint volume. According to Kawchuk and his team, this results in formation of a cavity and the sound we here is a result of that cavity formation.

Here, it must be mentioned that Kawchuk works at the University of Alberta and is an expert biomedical engineer and chiropractor.

The team of researchers, which had Lindsay Rowe of University of Newcastle as one of its members, confirmed that cavity didn’t collapse. For those who don’t know: Rowe is a radiographer by profession.

Another question that many of us seem of have in our minds is whether cracking knuckles damage our joints. The researchers said that this matter is still a contentious issue and the MRI didn’t have any clear evidence of knuckle cracking causing destruction of joints. Previous reports, however, have suggested that joint degeneration doesn’t speed up due to habitual knuckle cracking.

The group of researchers under Kawchuk is planning to conduct further tests to gather more information on effects of knuckle cracking on our joints.