Sometimes our bodies make strange noises, from a gurgling tummy to popping joints and bones. Many people are able to purposely crack their joints, with the most common being the knuckles, neck and back. Back cracking and clicking of the joints can be alarming whether it’s deliberate or not, and the rumour is that it can even cause arthritis.
Before we debunk the myths about back cracking and joint clicking, let’s find out what’s actually happening when we move the joint and hear a crack.
Why do our joints crack?
It took decades for researchers to figure out what’s happening inside our bodies when our joints crack. Some people feel the need to crack joints, and experience relief once they have ‘popped.’ When muscle joints are pulled apart, the pressure is reduced and small bubbles of gas are released from the joint fluid. It’s almost like creating a vacuum within the joint, which makes a popping noise as it collapses.
The gas takes a while to dissolve in the joint fluid, which is why when joints are cracked they can’t be re-cracked straight away. It’s also been found that joints temporarily increase the range of motion after they have been cracked, thanks to lowering the pressure.
Myth Number 1: Knuckle cracking causes arthritis in the hands
This is an old wives’ tale that has been passed around for decades, however there is no evidence to support it. People are often grossed out by knuckle cracking, but studies have proven that it doesn’t cause long term damage or arthritis – and could actually be good for you. It’s strange that this common belief only applies to the knuckles, as plenty of other joints get cracked regularly including knees, hips, toes and the spine.
Myth Number 2: Back cracking is painful
The cracking that occurs in the back is the same as the joint cracking in the hands, and any knuckle cracker will tell you that it’s painless and actually brings relief. Professional spine adjustments by a chiropractor may look and sound painful, but they do not cause any immediate pain in the affected joint.
Myth Number 3: Only old people get joint pain
It is definitely widely perceived that you only suffer from joint pain as a part of ageing. While many people do develop arthritis and aches and pains as they grow older, joint pain, back pain and arthritis can actually occur at any age.
If you feel like you need your back cracking, find out about professional spinal adjustments at Canary Wharf Chiropractic.