Show Details

Knuckle Cracking

May 4, 2010

A 60-year-long experiment shows that knuckle cracking does not cause arthritis.


A cracking good question…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
It’s time for a new episode of our series Reality Check, where we investigate science folklore. Courtney Sladic of Pittsburgh wants to know if cracking your knuckles can really give you arthritis. We spoke with Donald Unger, a medical doctor in Thousand Oaks, California, who began an experiment on his own hands as a teenager.

DONALD UNGER (Allergist):
It’s now been some 60 years, I’ve been cracking the knuckles on my left hand at least twice a day but never those on the right. I have not got the slightest sign of arthritis on either hand. So I can say at least as far as I am concerned, there is absolutely no evidence that cracking my knuckles caused me to get arthritis.

Though his study had a sample size of just one, Unger says it’s the only controlled experiment he knows of that addresses the question. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.