No, cracking or popping your knuckles is not that bad for you. Cracking your joints or knuckles is an interesting and yet poorly understood phenomenon. There are several theories that explain why joints pop or crack, but there is no explanation of the exact cause.
Medical research shows that there is no harm in cracking your knuckles as long as it stays painless. However, a person must be aware of the fact that repetitive cracking of knuckles might be potentially bothersome in some social gathering or might be physically troublesome for the person doing it.
It is important to understand that where this cracking sound is coming from as we crack our knuckles. The sound comes after the increasing of the spaces between the joints of fingers which causes the gas bubbles to fill into the joint fluid that later burst or collapse — thus producing the cracking sound. It is somewhat similar to blowing up a balloon and then stretching the surface of the walls of a balloon to the outer surface until it pops. Moreover, it takes some time (approximately 20 minutes) for the gas bubbles to fill in the joint fluid again and for this reason, you cannot crack the same knuckle twice in a row.
Harm vs Benefits Of Cracking Knuckles
There is no distinctive evidence behind the harm and benefits of cracking your joints. However, there are clear researchers indicating that arthritis does not result from knuckle cracking. The studies also suggest that knuckle or any joint cracking might be resulting from a negative pressure that pulls nitrogen gas into the joints temporarily thus causing the pop in the joints. You can hear the cracking sounds of the joints if the tendons start snapping over tissues may be because of small adjustments in the gliding passages of the tendons. The tendon snapping over tissues might also be due to the loss of muscle mass which is more common in older adults.
The cracking of knuckles is neither harmful nor beneficial. However, there might be serious consequences for a person who pulls his knuckle in the wrong direction or puts extra pressure on them. If the cracking of knuckles comes with some pain or swelling in the joints, then there is a great possibility of structural abnormalities and functional disabilities.
The usual cracking of knuckles might cause injury of the ligaments or loosen up the cartilage, but this might be a possibility if the person puts too much pressure on their joints. Some people with bursitis, arthritis, or tendinitis might notice cracking sounds due to the popping of swollen and irregular tissues. Furthermore, there are occasional cases of tendon injuries or dislocations due to vigorous knuckle cracking. The problems resulting from knuckle cracking are not the rule and might happen exceptionally.
There are rare medical occoccurences of problems resulting from cracking of knuckles and relate highly to how much force you are applying and the technique of cracking. For instance, tendon injuries and joint dislocations give a description after attempts to crack their knuckles. A study involving 74 people regularly cracking their knuckles shows that there were instances of swelling of fingers and their grip strength was also lower compared to the other 226 people who were not cracking their knuckles.