Knuckle Crackin’, Do it right or don’t do it

Distract don’t crack

I see kids (mostly) knuckle crackin’ all the time. Some of us have become blind to it and think it’s just what they do. There’s not really a problem with the process if done properly but most do it incorrectly. Most people become habitual crackers in a very short time, once they start, and then they will crack their knuckles 10 to 20 times per hour. Add that up through the day and you’re talking about some serious joint distress. The other aspect of this is that most people compress the joint to get the pop. This is where the arthritic changes can occur. The proper approach is to distract or pull the joint farther apart to get the pop. This can stretch the joint capsule, but at least it’s not causing wear on the bony joints. If you’re prone to knuckle cracking, limit yourself to once or twice per day or less.

Wise Guys eh?

I never thought about it when I was young but so many kids want to show me that they can do it themselves. You’d be surprised how often, when a teenager comes in, the first thing they will do is twist and “crack” their own neck. They’ll sit knuckle crackin’ about 30 times in a row, just to show me they can do it. It really doesn’t bother me but it makes it more difficult for me to get to the joint that I am focusing on. Sometimes I’ll talk to them and tell them the proper way to do it, so they are not doing damage. I care deeply about my patients and their long term health, but I’m not the thought police. Choices are choices, some are good and some are less so. I will care for you, no matter the choice and I try to give you the information that helps you move forward in a positive way. If you chose cracking knuckles as a habit, that’s your business and there could be worse things.

Here’s to happy and healthy knuckles for years to come.

Dr. Roy