Don't Worry Be Healthy: Cracked Out


-Marissa Tomko

There is some freaky stuff on the internet.

For instance, I think that most of you can relate to the moment in my early adolescence when I conducted an innocent Internet search, only to have something completely inappropriate come up. Yes, I may have become scarred for life. But since then, I’m not really surprised by all of the insane stuff the Internet has to offer. That is, until I found Jointcrackers, an online forum for people to tell the tales of their best joint cracks and to vent about their compulsive needs to perform them.

Joint cracking, specifically that of the knuckle variety, has been a habit of mine since I was twelve. I do it during tests, I do it when I go out, I even do it in my sleep. I live to crack and crack to live. I can’t explain it, it just feels right. The sound of it makes some of my friends cringe, but I don’t even notice it anymore. It’s like chirping birds or the sound of the ocean; just part of the fabric of my life!

I realize that I sound like an insane person. Such a realization leads me to wonder: why do some of us become so obsessed with releasing carbon dioxide from the synovial fluid in our joints, and what is it doing to us? And am I crazed enough that I should sign up for this nutty forum?

There are different reasons that people find joint manipulations to be so satisfying, but the most common theory lies in the idea that it offers a physical release of stress. Our friends over at Jointcrackers point to this reason, as well as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and pain relief. Some say that they feel a pressure in their joints that can only be relieved by cracking, a sensation that some users feel may be purely psychological. Some Jointcrackers love the need to crack, while others are on the forum to find ways to ditch the habit.

Whether you are trying to quit or not, chances are you catch some flack when you crack. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve heard “That’s going to give you arthritis!” when I absentmindedly indulge in a pop or two. But good news for me, and possibly you! Studies cited in articles like this one at Discovery all say that there is no correlation between knuckle cracking and arthritis. However, the Washington Post says avid crackers should be wary of damaging ligaments and weakening their grips over time. These effects are far and few between, and can be helped by cutting back on the crack—if you can.

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