Speak to a Recovery Expert today
Dispelling the Myths of Joint Cracking: What's Really Happening?
While not really an injury or recovery post, as physiotherapists, I often get questions about joints cracking, and whether it's a cause for concern. Many people believe that cracking or popping sounds in their joints indicate an injury or damage to their joints, but the truth is that joints cracking are a common phenomenon that is often harmless. In this blog post, I will be exploring these myths and looking at how up to date research can help us put your mind at rest.
Myth #1: Joints Cracking Is A Sign Of A Problem:
The first myth we need to dispel is that when joints crack it is somehow dangerous or harmful to our joints. In fact, many people experience cracking or popping sounds in their joints, particularly in their fingers, knees, and hips, without experiencing any pain or discomfort. This is because the sound is often caused by the release of gas bubbles, particularly CO2 (produced all throughout our body from the synovial fluid that surrounds our joints, not because of any damage to the joint itself.
Research has shown that joints cracking can actually have some benefits, such as improving joint mobility and reducing muscle tension. When a joint cracks, it can help to release tension in the surrounding muscles, which can make it easier to move the joint. However, if you are experiencing pain or discomfort when your joints crack, it's important to speak to a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying issues.
Myth #2: Chiropractors can "fix" joints by cracking them
Another common myth is that chiropractors can "fix" joints by cracking them. While chiropractic adjustments can be effective in treating certain musculoskeletal conditions, the idea that cracking or popping sounds during an adjustment are necessary for the treatment to be effective is simply not true.
In fact, research has shown that the popping sound that occurs during a chiropractic adjustment is not necessary for the treatment to be effective. Instead, the sound is simply caused by the release of gas bubbles from the synovial fluid, just like the cracking sound that occurs when we crack our knuckles. (1)
Myth #3: Cracking your joints will lead to arthritis
Many people believe that cracking their joints will lead to arthritis later in life. However, there is no evidence to support this myth. In fact, research has shown that cracking your knuckles does not increase your risk of developing arthritis. (2)
Arthritis is a complex condition that can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, age, and injury. While cracking your joints may be a habit that some people find annoying, it is unlikely to cause any long-term damage to your joints.
Myth #4: Only older people experience joints cracking
Finally, many people believe that joints cracking is something that only happens to older people. However, joints cracking can occur at any age, and is often more common in younger people who are more physically active.
The reason why joints cracking is more common in younger people is that they tend to be more physically active, which can cause more stress on their joints. Additionally, younger people tend to have more elastic ligaments and tendons, which can make it easier for their joints to crack. (3)
In conclusion, joints cracking is a common phenomenon that is often harmless. While it may be annoying for some people, there is no evidence to suggest that cracking your joints will lead to arthritis later in life. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort when your joints crack, it's important to speak to a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying issues. As physiotherapists, it's our job to educate our patients about what is really happening when their joints crack