Knuckle cracking side effects
Cracking your knuckles wears and tears the cartilage between the joints over a long period of time. This could contribute to arthritis.
Side effects of knuckle cracking are a weaker grip later in life, due to repeatedly rapid stretching of the ligaments.
Popping the joints elongates the joints over time and gives you the appearance of longer fingers.
The biggest danger of knuckle cracking lies in the principle of cavitation. Cavitation is when the pressure on a fluid (in this case the synovial fluid in the knuckle) suddenly is reduced. This causes the gases (nitrogen in this case) to be violently released, causing the popping sound.
Ship propellors can damage due to cavitation, and there are some signs that Knuckle cracking also causes long-term damage, at least in some people.
Elderly people with arthritis of the hand were asked who were habitual knuckle-crackers, over 50% answered affirmatively.
Another side effect of cracking the knuckles is chronic inflammatory damage to the ligamentous capsule of the metacarpophalangeal joints. Knuckle cracking can cause swelling of the hand and impairment later on.
There are several more dangers of Knuckle cracking, such as over-stretched of the ligaments and subsequent dislocation of the fingers, and the potential tearing of the ligaments in a finger.
Another side effect of Knuckle cracking is increased mobility in joints right after the popping. When joints are manipulated, the Golgi tendon organs - which are a set of nerve endings involved in our sense of motion - are stimulated and the muscles surrounding the joint become relaxed.
More about the popping sound when you crack your knuckles can be found here
This is our research on the alleged dangers of Knuckle cracking / adverse effects of Knuckle cracking and not medical advice!