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This Doctor Explains the Science Behind Cracking Knuckles, Debunks Myths

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A number of people seek an unusual pleasure while cracking their knuckles and hearing that popping sound. However, little is known about what leads to that sound and what can be its effects on our health in the long term. Explaining the phenomena, an Australian scientist Dr Karl Kruszelnicki has shed some light on the common habit through a Tik Tok video. According to a Daily Mail report, the 73-year-old doctor explained the science behind the cracking sound in the viral video. He said that when one pulls their finger to crack a joint, they are basically creating a space between the bones. “The space between the bones – bigger and this sucks the ligaments in and it makes a gas bubble pop into existence,” he added.

Debunking the popular myth that cracking the knuckles may cause arthritis, Dr Karl asserted that even if it does not cause arthritis, the habit is not completely harmless. He claimed that people who develop this habit tend to lose their grip strength gradually. It can cause a person to lose up to 75% of their grip strength which in turn can cause trouble in simple activities like opening jars.

However, Dr Karl also highlighted that the energy which is released upon cracked knuckles is “only about seven per cent of what you need to damage the cartilage”. Citing a study, Dr Karl further shared the case of a doctor who cracked his knuckles for fifty years on his left hand. He revealed that, later, no difference could be observed between the arthritis of his left and right hand.

Stating that one case study might not be sufficient, Dr Karl cited another study with a bigger sample size of 300 people. According to him, these people too cracked their joints on both their hands for 35 years. He revealed that the people in the study were found to have slightly swollen joints but no extra case of arthritis was noticed. Moreover, the grip strength of the individuals was also reduced by a quarter.

Concluding the informative video, Dr Karl underscored that there was no concrete evidence to prove that cracking knuckles can cause arthritis but it can definitely make it difficult for one to open a jar.

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