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Does Knuckle Cracking Cause Harm?

My son always cracks his knuckles. Can it affect him later in life?
- Dan

Medical research isn't completely clear on this. The answer may depend on how often someone is knuckle cracking. Although it's generally not shown to cause arthritis, as some people have thought, habitual knuckle cracking may lead to some hand swelling or reduced grip strength later in life.

Knuckle cracking is probably a good habit to break. Besides possibly causing future problems, joint cracking can be annoying to other people.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: July 2014

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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