Will Cracking Your Knuckles Lead to Arthritis?

The Short Answer from an orthopaedic surgeon

Will Cracking Your Knuckles Lead to Arthritis?

Q: Does cracking your knuckles lead to arthritis?

A: You’ve probably heard that cracking your knuckles will enlarge them or cause arthritis in your joints.

Advertising Policy

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

But that is an old wives’ tale. Habitual knuckle-cracking won’t cause osteoarthritis or joint enlargement.

Cracking your knuckles releases gas, in the form of nitrogen bubbles, from the space around your joints. The sound is triggered as the bubbles are compressed.

That said, the sound can make some people cringe. And a 1999 study found weaker hand grips and more hand swelling among knuckle-crackers.

Advertising Policy

— Orthopaedic surgeon Kim L. Stearns, MD

Advertising Policy