Main Street Chiropractic

Hi I'm Dr. Carl Zaycosky, and this is my way of sharing the resources, insight, and experience I've gained in my years as a chiropractor. I hope they help you chart a course toward whole body health.

Cracking Knuckles Part 3


There are basically three things that will cause your joints to make a noise.
The most common in my estimation is gas trapped in your joints being quickly released forming bubbles in the process which make the popping sound. Some background, your joints are lubricated by a substance called synovial fluid. This compound contains gases, primarily nitrogen and carbon dioxide. They are contained in the joint capsule. The quick stretching of this capsule causes the quick release of the bubbles. This is what you hear during a chiropractic adjustment.
A tendon is structure that holds a muscle to the bone. A sound is sometimes created when the tendon snaps on a quick movement or slides over an abnormal bump in the bone that the tendon passes over. The popping sound you hear from your ankle when you move it quickly after it has been immobile for a while, say when you’re watching TV, is a tendon snapping.
Finally an arthritic joint surface will make a sound. This isn’t the popping sounds as mentioned above. This is more of a grinding sound commonly heard when you have neck arthritis. It’s easy to hear it in your neck because it’s close to your ears.

This sound is created by the joint surfaces which are normally very smooth. The joint surface is covered by hyaline cartilage. As you age this cartilage begins to fall off or pit. The pitted surfaces then rub together instead of gliding on each other creating the grinding sound.
If you get nothing else from this blog series remember this. Never force a joint to make it pop. Even though people who do finance my vacations, it is wise to avoid this activity.




Dr Z.


Cracking Knuckles Part 1: here

Cracking Knuckles Part 2: here


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Cracking Knuckles Part 1

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I get this question a lot especially among the mother’s of teen age children. It goes something like this, “My son/daughter is always cracking his/her knuckles, that can’t be good can it? “ I’m not going to keep you in suspense in as is my approach with my other blogs. The answer is.  It’s not, however it does not do any harm. It’s basically an annoying habit that I’ve seen described as a tension release. I’m not convinced that’s entirely the case. Though I’m sure those of us who are subjected to being around people who habitually crack their knuckles can agree it is annoying.

The term for cracking your knuckles,  or for that matter any joint that makes a popping sound is cavitation. Here’s why you hear a popping sound when you crack your knuckles and for that matter your spinal joints when they are adjusted by your chiropractor. The sound is produced by increasing the space in the joint specifically a structure called the capsule. Increasing this enclosed space produces a negative pressure which causes the tiny gas bubbles (mainly carbon dioxide and nitrogen) to burst. Kind of like pulling an inflated balloon apart until it busts.

For you “knuckle crackers” you may have noticed when you crack your knuckle if you try to do it again it won’t pop. This is because it takes time for the gas bubbles to form again in the joint. Don’t worry about this gas bubbles traveling to your brain or lungs and causing all kinds of problems. It doesn’t work that way.

Up next will be the research. Yes, there is extensive research on knuckle cracking.


Your local Chiropractor,


Dr. Z. 

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