Is cracking your fingers harmful to your health?

The misconception that cracking your fingers causes arthritis in old age is wrong. This should reassure those who were worried without managing to get rid of this habit.

This is a habit that some of us have that makes us feel good, but hurts those around us. Cracking your fingers is the assurance of hearing yourself say for the umpteenth time:  » Stop cracking your fingers, you’ll get arthritis later « .

Pascal Richette, specialist and member of the French Society of Rheumatology, is formal: “ The sound of creaking joints is not pathological and does not increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis or arthritis « . The cracking is actually due to the so-called cavitation phenomenon.  » You modify the pressure in the joints by pulling on them, thus you create an air inlet, a small bubble which forms in the synovial fluid (located between each joint of our body), and it is this modification of the gaseous properties which hears and generates the noise « .

Donald Unger is an American allergist doctor born in the late 1920s whose mother, aunts and grandmother kept telling him not to crack his fingers, lest he get arthritis at dawn of his old age. Intrigued by this form of “conspiracy”, he decided to carry out the study on himself, and this for half a century! As he explained in the study protocol: For fifty years, the author cracked the knuckles of his left hand at least twice a day, leaving those of his right hand untouched to serve as a control. Consequently, the joints of the left hand cracked at least 36,500 times, while those of the right only cracked infrequently and spontaneously. At the end of the fifty years, his hands were compared to judge the presence or absence of arthritis. »

Result, after 50 years, no arthritis and especially no difference between the joints of his right hand and those of his left hand. A study that he himself described as restricted, since practiced only on a single subject. So in 2011, a study published in the Journal of American Board of Family Medicine, and carried out on a sample of approximately 200 elderly people confirmed Donald Unger’s results by revealing that people who regularly cracked their finger joints were no more victims of arthritis than others.

In the end, the only risk of getting your fingers cracked is that of making your neighbor really angry.

Sources: BBC, world

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