Health, Lifestyle, Popular Stuff

Fact or bullshit- does cracking your knuckles cause arthritis?

Melissa Imbesi by Melissa Imbesi
October 14th, 2019

Remember when you were a kid and your parents and grandparents would just pull out random bullshit facts about your health? You know the ones… If you go to bed with wet hair, you’ll get sick. If you eat a lot of carrots, you’ll have great vision. You’ve gotta wait an hour after you’ve eaten to swim or you’ll drown. Sitting too close to the TV will damage your eyes.  Too much sugar causes diabetes… and the list goes on and on.

One of the good things about growing up is that our bullshit detectors get more refined and we’ve got highly skilled professionals like Alexa and Siri to set us straight on what’s what.

There is one thing that I catch myself telling my husband off for ALL THE TIME and that is – “Don’t crack your knuckles! You’ll get arthritis!” I can’t let it go – it’s gotta be bad for you, right?

Wrong.

According to the clever people at the Harvard Medical School, cracking your knuckles DOES NOT cause arthritis. Multiple studies comparing the instances of hand arthritis amongst people who habitually go at their knuckles compared to those who never do show no difference. In the name of research, one brave doctor even cracked the knuckles on just his left hand twice a day, every day, for FIFTY years and neither hand showed any sign of arthritis at the end.

However, don’t send out the invitations for that knuckle-cracking convention just yet, because there’s still a good reason to give it up. Studies also show that chronic crackers may find a reduction in their grip strength as they age, which is pretty important when you think of all the stuff you need to grip in everyday life. Wine bottles. Bottle openers. Wine Glasses – that’s three perfect reasons to stop right there!

On our latest ep of Show+Telling, we shared some personal stories about our experiences with mental health and the things we do to help keep it all in check. Listen below and subscribe here.

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