What Happens When I Crack My Knuckles?

Dr. Smarty - What Happens When I Crack My Knuckles

Snap, crackle & pop! Dr. Smarty answers this great question that comes to us from our friend Tommy via Twitter!

Now here’s a question that has been around for a long time! That feeling of release when you’re able to press your fingers and hear that pop, or when you wake up in the morning and stretch, hearing your body sound like popcorn in the microwave…

When understanding why this happens, let’s go back to the source: your joints!

Dr. Smarty - What Happens When I Crack My Knuckles

Joints are the point where two bones meet and are held together by flexible tissues called ligaments. When you bend your fingers, your elbows, or even your knees you are using these joints! Every joint in your body is surrounded by a thick, clear liquid called synovial fluid, which acts as a lubricant for the joints as well as supplies nutrients to keep them healthy. In this fluid you can also find dissolved gases such as oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide.

There are a few theories out there as to why we are able to “crack” our joints, but the one that most doctors agree on has to do with bubbles that form in the synovial fluid when you stretch or bend your joints. When you do this action, you are causing the bones to pull apart, stretching the ligaments and causing tiny gas-filled bubbles to form in the synovial fluid. Once you stretch the joints to the perfect point, these bubbles pop, causing the familiar cracking sound that we all know and (most of us) love!

Have you noticed that you usually cannot crack the same joint more than once right away? That’s because these gases need to get dissolved into the synovial fluid once again, which takes about 25 minutes or so to do. Once they are redissolved, you can get crackin’ once again!

It’s as simple as that!

Do you have a question for the Doc? Submit them here or tweet them to @AskDrSmarty!

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