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Is there any Evidence that Finger Cracking Damages Joints

Finger cracking or cracking your knuckles’ is probably a well known and traditional activity throughout the world practiced by millions of us fun loving guys (and these days no doubt a significant representation of women) but how many of us know all of the varieties (of knuckle cracking) available and the potential damage that can occur?
Before going into the actual study results of just what this activity might produce in the way of injury it would be useful for us to outline the available knowledge regarding not only how the desired results are achieved but also the many varieties of cracking your knuckles’ available to us.
First, to produce the desired (and unnatural) sounds of knuckle cracking’ people must physically force the joints of their digits into positions they are unable to produce naturally. The following is a list regarding the abuses we can inflict on just our hands alone:
1. Bending a finger back and away from the palm of the hand, referred to as extension’, as if one were trying break one’s own knuckle joint.
2. Gripping and pulling a finger away from the palm of the hand, referred to as distraction’, as if one were trying to tear one’s whole finger out of its knuckle joint.
3. Using the palm of the opposing hand to force a digit into its own palm, referred to as compressing’, as if one were trying to crush his finger into the palm of his hand, and.
4. For the real masochist, what is called torsion’, which occurs when one grips a finger and literally tries to un-screw’ it from his hand.
Second, just how does that popping’ or cracking’ sound, like the sound of a breaking bone, actually occur? Although there is no definitive scientific results available to date of just what produces that sound, theories from scientist abound. Examples of these theories are:
1. Cavitation occurs inside the joint: this is when small pockets of vacuum form in the joint fluid during the pressure inflicted by the intended motion and these pockets are suddenly released from pressure creating that endearing noise.
2. Your ligaments produce the sound when they are suddenly and rapidly stretched.
3. Interior joint areas of adhesion are actually broken.

Now that we have some good, solid background information in place, we can examine the comprehensive test results available to us.

Dr. Donald L. Ungers spent fifty years of his life cracking the knuckles of his left hand twice a day. The results: After those fifty years of knuckle cracking there was no evidence of arthritis to the left hand and furthermore there was no noticeable difference between his left and right hands indicating that no knuckle damage occurs from knuckle cracking!

That is certainly good news for us but a parallel study should impart a word of caution to all:

A German scientist, Dr. Boris Von Falingerer, D.D.S., after a fifty-year study of his own, has concluded that when the same thought process required for the activity of knuckle cracking is applied to conflict resolution, severe and permanent knuckle damage can in fact occur. Practice your craft responsibly!