Does knuckle cracking lead to arthritis? Dr Karl explains

Dr Karl reveals what REALLY happens to your joints when you crack your knuckles all the time – inspiring hundreds to quit the ‘annoying’ habit

  • Scientist Dr Karl Kruszelnicki said cracking your knuckles won’t give you arthritis
  • The doctor revealed that cracking joints can lead to a decrease in grip strength 
  • He cited a study where a doctor cracked the joints on his left hand for 50 years 
  • After the 50 years the man had no difference in arthritis between his two hands
  • Another study looked at 300 people who cracked their knuckles for 35 years
  • They didn’t get arthritis but their grip strength was a quarter of what it should be

Popular Australian scientist, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki has revealed cracking your knuckles won’t lead to arthritis but may hinder your ability to open jars later on in life. 

In a video posted to TikTok, Dr Karl, 73, who has degrees in medicine and biomedical engineering, cited two studies that debunked the myth that cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis. 

He also said that people who regularly crack their knuckles have been known to lose up to 75 per cent of their grip strength making it harder to open jars.

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Popular Australia scientist Dr Karl Kruszelnicki revealed what happens to your hand joints if you crack you knuckles regularly in a now-viral video posted to TikTok 

‘When you pull your finger to crack the joint, you make the joint space – the space between the bones – bigger and this sucks the ligaments in and it makes a gas bubble pop into existence,’ Dr Karl explained in the now-viral clip. 

‘However the energy released is only about seven per cent of what you need to damage the cartilage.’ 

The doctor brought up one study involving a doctor who cracked the knuckles on only his left hand for 50 years.

‘At the end, no difference in arthritis between this hand and that hand but one person is not an adequate sample size,’ he said. 

Another study Dr Karl highlighted had a much bigger sample size of 300 people who cracked the joints on their both of their hands for 35 years.

‘They had no extra cases of arthritis but they had slightly swollen joints, which of itself is no big deal, and their grip strength is about about one quarter of what it should be,’ he said.

‘So there’s no strong evidence that cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis however it could make it difficult to unscrew a jar of Vegemite.’

He cited a study of 300 people who cracked their knuckles for 35 years and didn’t have increased rates of arthritis but their grip strength was about a quarter of what it should be 

More than 584,900 people viewed the video with many thanking the doctor for busting the common myth.  

‘Brb showing this to my mum to finally prove her wrong,’ one viewer wrote.

‘If I can’t open a jar of vegemite, imma stop cracking the knuckles,’ another vowed. 

‘It may not damage the fingers, but you can get damaged by people hitting you because they hate hearing it,’ a third joked. 

One person asked  if there is anything to increase grip strength to counter act damage from knuckle cracking. 

The doctor responded saying he thinks regular hand exercises may increase strength.  

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