Knuckle Poppers Beware…Popping Is For Corn Kernels, Not Knuckles!

Attention all knuckle poppers…you may be in for a load of trouble if you continue to treat your fingers like bubble wrap.  If you are a chronic knuckle popper you will probably vouch for the fact that it feels good to pop your fingers, however on the flip side what I am getting ready to tell you in this article may cause you to kick that awful habit really fast!

First…let’s take a look at what actually makes the “popping” sound when you self crack your knuckles.

The knuckle is where two small bones join together.  These bones are connected by ligaments (strong fibrous bands).  There is also tissue that surrounds the joint…known as the capsule.  This capsule encloses the joint and inside this small area is a liquid called synovial fluid.  Inside this synovial fluid are tiny gas bubbles, which is what makes the sound when you pop your joints.  Almost all joints in the body have this capsule enclosure with synovial fluid.  When a joint is distracted some of those small gas bubbles are released and thus you hear the popping sound.

The ligaments and the capsule surrounding the finger joints help to stabilize the joint and prevent motion in the wrong directions.  That’s why you cannot bend your fingers sideways or backwards, because these ligaments prevent that abnormal motion.

All chronic knuckle poppers  should stop popping immediately.

If you are a chronic popper you are constantly placing higher than normal stress on these tiny ligaments and capsule, and over time they become more lax.  This can cause the finger joints to become what’s known as “hyper-mobile”, where the finger joints move too far.  Although you may be thinking this seems like a good thing, it really is not.  Excessive motion in the finger joints can lead to joint swelling and inflammation.  Chronic finger poppers also commonly complain of stiff finger joints and pain or discomfort in the joints.

Although many family physicians will tell you that popping your knuckles is harmless...I have seen thousands of finger poppers headed down the road toward developing symptoms of arthritis much quicker than the average person who does not regularly pop their knuckles.

I have treated thousands of hand patients over the past 14 years, specializing in joint alignment and biomechanics.

For those of you that have been popping for a long have created a self-inflicted hand problem.  If you cannot stop because it has become such a habit, then you must find a chiropractor that specializes in treating the hand.  Although this may be hard to come by since chiropractors generally specialize in the spine there are a few that have specialized training in treating the hands.

You may be asking yourself… if it is bad for me to pop my own knuckles, then why is it alright for a chiropractic hand specialist to adjust my hand and finger joints?

That is a great question, and there is a very logical answer.  When you self-pop your knuckle joints you are inflicting a random stress to the ligament and capsule which will cause the tiny joint to become misaligned.  Now since the joint is so small the misalignment is also minute and therefore you cannot usually observe this misalignment with the naked eye.  However with specific joint motion testing and/or x-rays a chiropractic hand specialist can figure out which joints have become misaligned by your chronic popping habit and then they can gently realign those misaligned finger bones using a specific adjustment in a precise direction.  So the chiropractic hand adjustment is a specific movement of the joint vs. a generalized random movement when you were knuckle popping.

After your chiropractic hand specialist realigns the misaligned bones and joints in your hand and fingers you will start to feel more strength and comfort in your finger joints and that “need to pop” sensation and stiffness you used to experience will decrease with time.

Although this process will not happen overnight, it also will not take forever either.  It may take several chiropractic hand and finger adjustments to correct this problem, but it will be well worth it.  Also the more experienced your chiropractor is with treating the hands the shorter of a recovery time you should have; so you should do your due diligence and really search for that chiropractic hand specialist nearest you.  Many times the closest hand specializing chiropractor may be a couple hundred miles away or in a different state.  I am currently teaching doctors of chiropractic how to treat hand conditions so if there is not currently a suitable doctor near you...hopefully there will be soon.

Now that you should be feeling more comfortable with what you need to do about that ugly habit, why don’t you sit back, pop a bag of popcorn (not your knuckles) and enjoy a good movie.

© Robert J. Fenell, D.C.

WANT TO USE THIS IN YOUR EZINE OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you use this blurb with it: For over 14 years Dr. Robert J. Fenell, D.C. has helped relieve thousands of patients from their debilitating hand and foot pain. He has also helped train hundreds of other chiropractors in the diagnosis and treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome and many other hand and foot conditions. Get your FREE hand and foot kit at: