Cracking one’s knuckles is a common habit. But is it only annoying, or is it also harmful? According to physicians, knuckle-crackers are doing no harm to themselves.
Knuckle cracking does not cause arthritis, enlarged joints, or other musculoskeletal problems, say experts. The popping sound results when the two opposing bones in the knuckles are pulled apart, which creates a vacuum within cracking knuckle bones the joint. A small amount of gas dissolved in the joint fluid is quickly released, forming a bubble that almost instantly collapses and produces the noise.
Unfortunately, arthritis cannot be prevented simply by curing oneself of a habit — in fact, there are no proven methods of prevention at all. However, a few measures might lower your risk: losing weight, if you are overweight, since too much weight puts stress on joints; exercising regularly with weight-bearing but low-impact exercises such as walking, to strengthen protective muscles; and performing daily stretching exercises to improve flexibility and thus help maintain mobility.
Recent research (which has not been validated) suggests that vitamin C may prevent the progression of arthritis, once you have it, and estrogen replacement therapy may protect bones from arthritis as well as from osteoporosis.
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