Side Effects of Knuckle Cracking & 10 Easy Ways to Stop This Habit

How to Stop Cracking Your Knuckles for Good in 10 Easy Steps

Knuckle cracking habit is surely addictive but not exactly flattering. Many people like to pop their fingers or crack their knuckles – and yes, it becomes a habit. The fluid that surrounds the joints has air bubbles in it. When the knuckles are cracked, the bubble inside the fluid burst which cause snapping, or other annoying sounds. It is believed that popping of joints can lead to joint problems or arthritis. There is no evidence to prove that it is extremely bad, but it does annoy people around.

What Is Knuckle Cracking And Why Are People Addicted to it?

Knuckle cracking sound is audible when joints are stretched. It sometimes gets embedded in the lifestyle and turns into an addiction. It gives a feeling of satisfaction when the bones get realigned, and the urge for knuckle cracking is as natural as scratching. The synovial fluid in the joints has nitrogen as a dissolved gas in it. When the joints are stretched, a small bubble forms which create an audible crack when the bubble collapses. The same joint can be cracked after the refractory period when the gas forms in the joints again. The cracking of the knuckles provides relief when pressure is released from the joints.

What Are the Dangers of Knuckle Cracking?

Knuckle cracking is done deliberately and routinely to manipulate, mobilize, or adjust the joints. Knuckle cracking and hand osteoarthritis are closely related. There are some latent dangers of cracking knuckles which are as follows:

  • It may lead to joint problems or knuckles cracking arthritis.
  • Repetitive and intentional cracking triggers pain in the joints.
  • An abnormality can occur in the structure of the joints like injured ligaments or loose cartilage.
  • Habitual popping can lead to dislocated fingers, overstretched ligaments, swelling in the hands, or poor grip strength.
  • Continuous cracking of knuckles can create a possibility of joints to crack because of the loosening of the synovial membrane.

Simple Tips to Quit the Habit of Knuckle Cracking

Some people do realize that cracking of knuckles is a habit they should get rid of, or their friends and family members do convey their annoyance frequently. There are some simple steps to follow which can help in outgrowing this habit.

1. Engage Yourself in a New Hobby

Drawing, art, craft or writing are hobbies that you can inculcate to keep your hands and mind busy and engaged in your spare time. This will not leave you with any time to think about cracking the knuckles and hence you won’t.

A woman knitting

2. Use Behavioural Therapy Techniques

If you sincerely want to give up the habit of knuckle cracking, then you must adopt either positive or negative behavioural therapy. It can either be a positive therapy with a reward for restraining the urge or a negative therapy by punishing yourself for not being able to restrain yourself when required. These techniques will surely help you in giving up the habit.

3. Keep Your Hands Occupied

Knuckle cracking is sure to ring in some harm and so you must try to train your hands to learn a new skill. This will improve manual dexterity, finger strength and coordination in your attempt to learn to twirl a pencil or coin just the way magicians do. It can prove truly good as mastering a new skill requires concentration and practise.

4. Adopt the Rubber Band Behavioural Method

A classic way of stopping yourself from cracking your knuckles is adopting the single behavioural method. You need to wrap a rubber band on your wrist which when pulled back and released will snap into your skin. The sting of it will remind you to break the habit as the pain can be associated with knuckle cracking. We know this method is a little mean but if you want to give up your habit, you will have to take extreme measures.

5. Resort to Other Preventive Methods

The cracking habit can be curbed by some other ways too. One option can be rubbing lotion on your hands. Keep the lotion handy so that the slightest urge should remind you of it and in turn, the hands will remain moisturized and soft. The second option is to tape your fingertips to your palm so that it makes a fist. You can cover your hands with socks while watching television or when you relax. Another option is to keep a pencil or pen in your hand so that you do not start cracking your knuckles.

A woman writing in a diary

6. Be Aware of the Habit

Knuckle cracking is done automatically as a nervous habit, and so it is more obvious to the outsider than the person who does it. You can ask a friend to give a gentle reminder so that whenever you crack your knuckles, he will remind you.

7. Avoid Nagging the Person

Nagging or complaining is not the right way to make a person give up the cracking habit. It will only make it worse. The nervous reaction to the complaint will build stress, and so gentle reminders would be more appropriate.

8. Provide a Support System

Understanding and dealing with knuckle cracking can be much easier with a touch on the arm when a person notices the cracker unconsciously cracking knuckles. Friends and family members can play a supportive role to help a person give up the habit.

9. Find Out the Source of Anxiety

As knuckle cracking is a nervous habit, the source of stress should be identified so that the stress does not trigger the habit. Stress can be due to social acceptance, relations with parents and peers, or upcoming exams. Try to identify the graph when the urge is high by noting it in a small notebook which can really help the person.

10. Give It Some Time

Patience is an antidote which can help a person who is trying to give up the habit of cracking the knuckles. It is harmless, and once the person realizes that he should give up the habit, the person needs to be given some time to break free.

The habit of knuckle cracking should be addressed at the earliest. When the gases present in the fluid are suppressed, a bubble forms and bursts which causes the popping sound when knuckles are cracked. When this process is well understood, you may be able to give up the habit easily.

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