SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center
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Does Knuckle Cracking Cause Harm?

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

The medical literature isn't completely clear on this. The answer may depend on the frequency of the knuckle cracking. Although it's generally not shown to cause arthritis, as some people have thought, habitual knuckle cracking may result in some hand swelling and impairment later in life.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: April 2011