Arthritis pain - Does cracking your knuckles or stretching your fingers cause joint pain?

Arthritis affects about 10 million people in the UK, according to the NHS.

It’s a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in the joints.

Cracking your knuckles has long been linked to developing arthritis in later life. 

But, scientists have quelled the myth, and revealed the habit doesn’t lead to arthritis.

“There is no evidence that cracking knuckles causes any damage, such as arthritis, in the joints,” said Dr Dimitrios Pappas from Johns Hopkins University.

“However, a couple of reports in the medical literature are available associating knuckle cracking with injury of the ligaments surrounding the joint or dislocation of the tendons, which improved with conservative treatment.

“A study found that after many years of cracking habitual knuckle crackers may have reduced grip strength compared with people not cracking their knuckles.”

Knuckles are covered by capsules, which contain synovial fluid. This fluid acts as a lubricant, and also provides bones with nutrients.

A number of gases are continuously dissolved in the synovial fluid, said Pappas.

When someone cracks their knuckles, the pressure inside the joint is lowered as the capsule is stretched.

All of the gas then rushes to fill the empty space, creating a ‘bubble’, which bursts and makes a popping sound.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the UK, according to the NHS.

The condition affects about eight million people in the country - mostly developing in people during their late 40s.

Smooth cartilage which line the joints begin to thin out, and tendons and ligaments have to work harder.

This causes bone to rub on bone, forcing them out of their usual positions.