Have you ever wondered what's actually happening when you pop your knuckles? Is it bad to do so? What makes that loud cracking sound?
The knuckle is a joint where two finger bones meet. This joint is encased by ligaments known as the joint capsule. The capsule is an enclosed space around the joint, filled with a lubricating substance called synovial fluid.
Synovial fluid contains tiny gas bubbles, which escape the joint capsule when you pop your knuckles. This is what produces the popping sound.
If you are a chronic popper you are constantly placing higher than normal stress on these tiny ligaments and capsules, and over time they may become more lax.
This can cause the joints to become “hyper- mobile”, where the finger joints become slightly unstable. The abnormal motion in the finger joints can lead to irritation and increased discomfort.
The act of popping your knuckles may provide instantaneous relief, but it’s only temporary. Poppers find the urge and need to continue popping their knuckles in order to experience another dose of temporary relief. Habitual poppers often complain of stiff, painful and uncomfortable finger joints that become progressively worse over time.
Why is it okay to receive a chiropractic hand adjustment, but not pop your own knuckles?
When you self-pop your joints you’re inflicting a random stress to the ligaments and capsule, which may eventually cause the joints to become hypermobile and misaligned. On the other hand, a chiropractic adjustment is a specific procedure where we strategically, gently realign the misaligned bones and joints. Through gentle adjustments the finger and hand joints will regain their healthy alignment. The chiropractic adjustment is a specific movement in a precise direction, versus a generalized, random movement when you pop your own knuckles.
If you are a long-time knuckle popper or suffer with hand or finger stiffness and often feel the urge to pop your knuckles, you are in luck! Most chiropractors focus primarily on treating the spine; however our clinic is one of the few in your area which also adjusts the hands. If you suffer with a hand problem, be sure to schedule a chiropractic evaluation with us to see if we can improve your condition.