I know people say you’re not supposed to crack your joints because it can lead to bone spurs, cartilage deterioration and arthritis. But, there’s no greater frustration than when a joint (finger, wrist, back, neck, knee, hip etc.) feels like it needs to crack, like it’s too tight and needs to let off a little synovial gas, and it doesn’t. No matter how much you try, you just can’t get the joint to separate and break that seal. It’s a frustrating and annoying situation.
I recently read that cracking your joints is actually a positive thing. The release of the vacuum seal that has built up in the joint allows synovial gas to escape and synovial fluid to flood the joint. This promotes joint lubrication and actually helps the joint operate more smoothly. Unfortunately, it can also cause cartilage to break down, releasing tiny bits of cartilage into the joint space. These then adhere to the ends of the bones and cause new bone to grow over them. These are called bone spurs, and can lead to scraping of the 2 bones, or the destruction of more cartilage. It can also cause a swelling of the synovial sac, which is constantly ruptured every time you crack the joint (http://health.howstuffworks.com/human-body/systems/musculoskeletal/question437.htm).
As bad as cracking your joints can be for you, there’s nothing like the satisfaction one feels when a particularly tight joint finally gives in and makes that loud pop sound. I have had many joints in my body succumb to my meticulous twisting, pulling and squeezing. Usually these are the joints that don’t normally crack. I crack my knuckles a lot. They are easy to crack, and they’re usually ready for another crack in 15 minutes or so. It’s also very common for me to crack my back. It’s not done totally on purpose, it sometimes just happens in the morning when I’m getting out of bed. My knees crack, my hips crack, my neck cracks, even my collar bone has been known to crack. All these are so satisfying when they finally let lose that synovial gas. The feeling of calm that one feels after a good joint-cracking session is difficult to replicate. It’s when the joint won’t crack, even though you feel that it needs to, that you become ultra-frustrated and overly annoyed. There needs to be some way that we can guarantee that these joints will always crack when they feel like they need to. It will make everyone slightly more happy and reduce the frustration that comes with not being able to crack them.