Curiosities: Why do some people crack their fingers (knuckles) and why knuckle cracking makes a popping sound?

By Eddy Montilla.


Yesterday, I wanted to go to a quiet place to write a short story, so I went to the town library. It was very quiet indeed, except for the noise made by a student who was cracking his knuckles. The first time he did it, minutes later, he tried to repeat the same action, but it was in vain. However, after 20 minutes or so, he was right there, doing the same thing again. Then, I was a little bit upset and also curious to know why some people crack their knuckles to a point that they cannot stop.

     Joint cracking is a habit, and in general, people keep attached to their habits because they feel good doing so. Some people crack their knuckles to get rid of stress; others claim to experience physical release, certain feeling of comfort and looseness.

     As for the popping sound, what do you hear when a balloon bursts? A sound, right? And a balloon contains gas. There are different theories about the popping noise, but in general they have the same thing in common: gas bubbles. Between the bones, there is a liquid called synovial fluid whose function is to allow the joint to move freely by acting as a lubricant. This synovial fluid contains gas bubbles that pop when they receive some pressure, making the familiar sound we know. A most recent theory points to a cavity filled with gas that is formed when the joint is stretched apart. However, in both cases, the idea is the same: The popping noise comes from gas as primary agent. Since the gas stays in the synovial fluid more than 20 minutes, a person cannot crack his or her knuckles repeatedly. They need 20-30 minute intervals for that, and that’s why the kid in the library could not crack his fingers twice so quickly, which allowed me to write the first paragraph of my story without being interrupted by his noise.

     Finally, until now, there is no scientific evidence that links joint cracking to arthritis. Joint injuries, swelling and other problems are not beyond the bounds of possibility, but is not sure that you will end up dealing with these problems either. But the sound you make whenever you crack your knuckles is socially disturbing and annoying. Therefore, be careful and think about other people.

Copyright 2016 All rights are reserved.


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