Is Popping Your Knuckles/Back Bad For You?

This question came from someone who says they “pop” all the time, all by themselves. If you have a question for me please feel free to leave a comment, and I will be happy to post about the topic.

As with all of my answers this one has a caveat. The simple answer is no popping your knuckles or any joint is not bad for you. Here’s the caveat; anything to excess is not good.You should not be popping your knuckles, back or neck all the time. I’ve seen people who every 30 minutes or so will take their head and twist it “crackle”. This is probably not good, as every time you take your joints that far it puts stress on the joint capsule. Doing this too often can stretch out the ligaments and predispose you to injury. This is often seen in gymnasts. Too much flexibility can be a bad thing. Just like too little can be. Remember, there are three aspects to good exercising, strength, flexibility, and endurance. Keep them all in balance and life is good.

Popping your own joints can also cause injury, but more likely, you will just prolong your own recovery. Usually when a joint “locks up” movement will get it to release on it’s own. When it doesn’t, you can get pain. “Popping” your back on your own can relieve some of the pain temporarily but will often only “pop” the surrounding joints, leaving the “stuck” one “stuck.” A chiropractor isolates the “stuck” joint and corrects the issue. So while popping your own joints is not necessarily bad, you should seek a chiropractor for serious issues.

With the caveat out of the way, taking your joints through their full range of motion is good for them, and can actually reduce the chance of degeneration or arthritic changes.This doesn’t mean that if you pop your knuckles you won’t get arthritis, but the risk may be reduced. The old wives tale that popping your knuckles will give you arthritis is just that, a tale.

The popping is not perfectly understood the current thinking is that it is a cavitation. The pressure increases in the joint space causing the nitrogen or other gases to be “popped” from the liquid to gaseous form. It takes a refractory period before this can happen again. That’s why you can’t pop your knuckles immediately. For more information regarding what the pop does see my previous post on the topic.

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70 thoughts on “Is Popping Your Knuckles/Back Bad For You?

  1. Pingback: Late breaking news | Treat Your Back Pain

  2. Someone

    For a few days now I’ve popped my knuckles so much i can pop them without even touching my fingers now…that makes it a very bad habbit of mine and its very bad because I’m popping them constantly…not every other minute or so at least once every single minute and my fingers are starting to hurt sometimes…and now its very hard to restrain myself im trying not to do it…and I’m only 15 years old so that makes it even worse of a habit of mine…so i agree popping your knuckles isn’t bad every once in a while but don’t do it excessive to where you discover you can pop them without even touching your fingers…then you’re in trouble and you need to stop…

  3. cmnacnud Post author

    You’re right on popping joints every few minutes can damage them. I must add however there is more than one kind of pop. The most common pop is the nitrogen release. Some people can get a pop over and over without a rest. Those kinds of pops are usually a ligament or tendon snapping over a joint or bony prominence. Again, it’s probably not a good thing to do a lot, but it’s ok generally. There is also one other kind of pop, though, I’d probably describe it as a thunk. When a bone is out of place such as a dislocated shoulder or static subluxation you will often audibly hear the relocation. It is usually a deep thunk sound and you feel the huge movement of the bone going back into place. That’s not one you hear very often, and that’s a good thing.

  4. Devan

    I dont really know if this is the right place to ask a question but, I will ask anyways. (Let me know where to go if I am wrong)
    I have gained the habbit of ‘pooping’ my knuckles and arm and neck and hand …foot..back.. on and on and on and i really am not likeing it anymore, some times it hurts as a previous poster said and sometime they wont pop so i just end up with a feeling of like ‘ oh i have a scratch but i cant reach it thing’
    SO, my question is, do you know of any way to relive the need to pop. i know its a habbit just like any other and you need to practice not doing it, but like i dont know soaking it hot water or sumthing like that? ( sorry i typed alot )
    Something to relieve the itch to pop?

  5. cmnacnud Post author

    Stopping the popping, huh. Well, there are some things that you can try. If this is a nervous habit like biting your nails then one important thing to do is identify what’s causing your stress that you’re attempting to relieve with the popping. Once you identify the source of stress you can address it, and that will allow you to naturally reduce your popping.

    To address the bad habit directly you can see a chiropractor and have them adjust every thing that they find that clinically “needs” to be adjusted then you will know subconsciously that you don’t “need” to pop, because they are already taken care of. You can also try behavior modification, such as replacing the bad habit with something good, using rewards, or taking up another habit. There are also negative reinforcement methods, but I don’t subscribe to those methods as readily. I’m not a psychologist, so beyond my advice I recommend you get some help, either through a friend or professionally, as these kinds of things are always easier to break with support.

  6. Devan

    Awesome Thanks, yeah its not so much a nervous but almost just like and itch kinda. when im doing anything or nothing. pop pop. i bite my nails cuz my hands get bored..is what i would say so im trying to stop all of these habbits. thanks for the help. Now are you the guy that runs this site? if so, very nice site thanks for putting it up, and if not well thanks for the help anyways.

  7. sara

    So IM 21 years old i do yoga in the morning and my back will cracks a ton of times, and throught out the day if i bend down or move a certain way my back with crack. I have has chronic back pain for the past 6 months and the cracking/ popping does help,it usually intensifies the pain, does any one have solution for my problem

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Sara, I can confidently recommend seeing a chiropractor. You said the popping does help, but mentioned that it intensified the pain. I’m not sure where you pain is being generated. A good chiropractor should be able to locate the source of your pain with an examination, and provide recommendations to you as to what to do about it. If you are in Provo/Orem or Utah County in general give me a call and we’ll set up an appointment. But we will need further information to get an idea of what’s going on. You can get my contact information here.

  8. Shaun

    Hi, I’m 21 years old. I have been popping my back for 9 months or so. At the first, I did it once or twice a day. But slowly the number have increased. Now I do it 10 or 15 times a day. I try not to do it. But if I do not do it I feel really weird. I do not feel any pain, but I feel so tired. Pooping back gives temporary relieve from that tiredness. When I sleep at night I fell like I need to poo my back every single minute.

    Is popping back bad? Does it cause any problem later on? What should I do?

  9. cmnacnud Post author

    Shaun, as mentioned earlier anything in excess can be bad for you. If you are having symptoms that are only receiving temporary relief from your popping you should see a professional, as you are probably not addressing the source of your symptoms.

  10. Shannon

    Hi, I know people above are asking you the same things that I am about to but I feel that mine may even be worse. I am constantly popping my fingers in every possible direction every single minute or more than once. They get tired very easily and all I have to do is push all my fingers in one direction and they will all pop in multiple different places. Even typing this my wrist is popping over and over. I also pop my elbows that are double jointed every two or three minutes. Then there’s my back that will pop with the slightest movements or just a breath of air. Then I believe my tailbone but that only pops about every thirty minutes when I turn or push my rear forward and lean back. My knees crack, pop, and make that gross sound like my elbows every time I move them no matter what the movement is. I pop my neck all the time but not at as bad as the others. My left big toe never stops popping and it hurts every time and my ankles are doing the same thing my knees do. I even pop my shoulders every hour along with my jaw. I am now actually getting really scared that this isn’t normal but I really can’t stop. Should I see a doctor or something? Thank you.

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      First let me give you my advice, Shannon, and then I’ll explain. Yes you should have yourself examined by a chiropractor, and probably get a second opinion as well. You should consider perhaps additionally working with a physical therapist or chiropractor who does physical/muscular rehab, or counselor as well.

      It sounds like a concerning issue that you have. Every person is different and I have yet to see a patient that fits the textbook. That’s why I go by evidence rather than hearsay. I say that your situation is concerning not because of the evidence you’ve presented, but because you are concerned. If nothing else seeing a chiropractor will enable you to identify the situation and deal with it appropriately. Some people pop more than others, that doesn’t concern me. Popping while performing normal motions is not a big deal, but having pain when it happens can be. Pain is our body’s warning system. It tells us when something is wrong. Something can be wrong without pain, but if you are feeling pain then you’re body has identified it. The only pain you mentioned was in your big toe. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t something further that is wrong, but that is the only solid indication of a problem that you have given.

      If you are popping all of the time on purpose, in other words applying over pressure or positioning, and can’t stop then you should look into methods of self control/addiction recovery. Most people have bad habits and habits can be very difficult to break, but it is possible with help.

      If your joints are popping without any effort or positioning then you may need to address lifestyle issues that may be causing it such as strength, diet, flexibility, etc… However without major symptoms diagnoses are more difficult. You may need to have multiple tests and treatment trials. Of course it may also be obvious and easy in a single examination. If you are serious about discovery and change of this issue, then you should be prepared to do what it takes. Good luck to you. If you are in Utah, I look forward to seeing you in my office.

  11. Moe mary

    Hey I’m 16 and I have problems with my joints all of my joints pop a lot I once even had to have physical therapy for my wrist, just because it hurt a lot I never really got a real diagnosis for it either, well my shoulders pop every morning with out fail my knees hurt a lot so I just have to bend them and then they pop, my elbows pop when ever I keep them bent for a while (that’s probably normal) but my ankles hurt all the time and when ever I rotate it it pops tons of times and it hurts and i dont know what do it’s the same with both of my wrists also … Do you think that this is normal or should I see a doctor….. I’m kind of avoiding going to doctor or physical therapy because I hate to have my parents spend that much money on me I already put them through a lot with my medical problems…. I would appriciate it a lot of you could help.
    P.S. I’m doing all I can to live with it but I just need some answers

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Well, Moe Mary, it’s very difficult and illegal (in Utah anyway) to diagnose without an examination, so I don’t know that I can answer you specifically, but I hope this information can help. First I would track your symptoms. Make a little paper with each joint that pops on it. You cold even draw a stick figure. Then, when each joint pops put a tally mark at that joint. Do this for a day then you’ll be better able to tell how often it really does happen. It may be less than you think. Or more. Then write down all of your symptoms such as which joints hurt when they pop which ones feel better when they do. If your not able to do something due to the pain etc… With all of that information go and see a chiropractor. They will know muscles and joints better than any other type of primary care physician. However they may not adjust you. You may find out that you are hyper mobile rather than needing adjusting you may need strengthening in certain areas and ways to stabilize your joints.

      Gymnasts and dancers run into this more than others. They have flexibility and endurance, but no strength training. So they injure them selves that way. The opposite of football players with endurance and strength, but low flexibility. They injure themselves differently. You need all three in balance.

      So, get all of your symptoms together, track them and then get to a chiropractor to have them analyze it and examine you. You may be worried about your parents paying for you, but they would be worse off if you seriously injured yourself because you didn’t get checked out. If nothing else, talk with them about this let them make the decision.

      If you’re in Utah, come see me. I’ll be happy to help.

  12. Calgaltoo02

    I too am a knuckle popper to relieve pressure. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I usually pop my knuckles since they feel tight. A couple of nights ago I woke up and I popped my forefinger by pushing down on it, and it felt different…more of a “crunching” sound to it. It was sore that day, and worse the next day, and slightly swollen. If I try to bend it, it is painful down the back of my hand. I am wearing a finger/hand splint. Is it possible to sprain or break your finger by popping it?

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Calgal, it is possible to break your finger by popping it, but chances are you’re having more serious problems that you already know about if that is going to happen. I’ve never heard of a generally healthy person breaking their own finger by popping it. As far as a sprain or strain goes that is possible all it takes is a sudden unguarded motion. Just like with your ankle if you were to land on it properly it would be fine. It’s that one time that you step wrong or on the pebble or what ever that your supporting structures buckle. This again is fairly odd to hear about in the fingers as they are much simpler with much less force going through them, but not impossible. I cannot diagnose you without a physical exam, and would recommend you get to your local chiropractor for a proper diagnosis and help.

  13. Michele

    Im 19, I have fibromyalgia so I have chronic pain, so when i do pop my neck,back,wrists(i know odd),knees,fingers,and knuckles…its relieving pain. I def. cant afford going to seek medical help, and I am suppose to find a massage therapist but again…money is tight. I have to pop all the listed above MULTIPLE times a day…I can’t actually say how many..but i know its too much. It runs in the famly to have a bad back..and knees. The wrist think is terrible though…if im not carefull with how much pressure i put on my wrists they will just give out in pain and this isn’t a great amount of weight either…and they pop out of place very easily and I have tried to do exercise to strengthen them but it doesn’t seem to do a lot. Also i can feel almost like void spaces in my wrist..it doesn’t feel right.
    what would you recommend?

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      I can’t tell you what is wrong if anything with your wrists without an exam. And there is no evidence that you are popping too much. In fact if you are getting some pain relief from the popping then it may be a good thing. Fibromyalgia is a unique situation as well, treatment of that is probably best done on your own, as you may have discovered. Exercise, diet, sleep, etc… You should keep in touch with some provider regarding it as there is ongoing research that may yet find something to help your fibromyalgia.

      The bigger question here is more nuanced. How do you take care of yourself if your finances are a problem? I’ll be happy to answer that to a certain extent, however it’s too much for just a reply here. Check back soon, I will be writing a full post on the topic.

  14. Mona

    I constatly pop my back, neck, fingers, wrist, ankles, knees, and toes. I can’t help but do it over and over and over again. If I don’t pop them it will bother me a lot!!! I try really hard not pop them or even think about it but it’s nearly impossible…I haven’t always been like this, it just started happening a couple of weeks ago. It drives me crazy!!! I heard that it very very bad to do it alot..I’m only 18 and the thought of getting older scares me because I don’t want my joints to be hurting.. So what should I do?????

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Mona,
      The first thing to do in your situation is to find out how bad it is. Try tracking how often you do pop your joints. Keep a journal on you for a week and track each time you pop something and what it is you pop. Often when people say they are doing it constantly it turns out less than they actually think. If it is only once or twice a day or something then I wouldn’t worry too much about it, but if you are still concerned after tracking it for a week take that journal to a chiropractor who can do a thorough exam and determine if there is a serious problem or if perhaps there is something else that needs to be addressed which is why you may have the urge to adjust yourself all the time. If it is they can address it and once corrected you should be able to stop. If there is no physiological need to resolve then we’d have to conclude that this is a nervous twitch you’ve developed. It’s not a big deal everyone develops bad nervous habits. Some people bite their nails, some drum their fingers, some do much worse. We’d have to address this as we would any addiction. I would recommend some professional help as councilors/psychologists can be a great help in addressing addictions. You may be able to solve it on your own, but I don’t know your full situation.

  15. Pittman

    Hello,
    I just came across this site. I constantly pop my big toe. I have been popping it for years. I feel like I have to pop it all day long and I mean it sounds like loud hard pops. It’s almost like I think I have to pop it and get relief. This weekend I pop it so much that it is kinda sore now. I have tried to use will power and go without but thats almost impossible. Its the same as someone constantly popping their knuckles.
    Help, any suggestions

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Pittman,
      Your situation is similar to many of the replies I’ve gotten to this post. First, begin by reading the replies I’ve given. If you are popping any joint so much that you are causing pain then you should seek help go to a chiropractor who can do a thorough exam and determine if there is a physiological problem or if perhaps there is something else that needs to be addressed which is why you may have the urge to adjust yourself all the time. If it is they can address it and once corrected you should be able to stop. If there is no physiological need to resolve then we’d have to conclude that this is a nervous twitch you’ve developed which has turned into a physiological problem. Everyone develops bad nervous habits, but it seems that yours has consequences that are causing physical harm. Some people bite their nails so much they bleed. You should address this as any addiction. I would recommend some professional help as councilors/psychologists can be a great help in addressing addictions.

  16. Travisduke002

    Hi,

    I’ve seen a lot of people ask you about self popping. My girlfriend will stand on my back and walk up and down from my shoulders to lower back. Is this any worse than doing it myself? I am 6’3, 185lbs and she is 5’7, 145lbs.

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Simply yes it is worse.

      When you “pop” by inducing a normal range of motion, such as twisting your back or taking your knuckles through a full range of motion when they are restricted, you are doing a normal motion. Putting extra force through your joints in a way that your body does not normally do should be done by someone with training. Having said this, massage therapists will see what I refer to as passive manipulation. That is that your joint repositions or “pops” when the muscles release or with the pressure of the massage. These types of things are not a major risk, but the therapist is trained and experienced in these things.

      If you don’t have training you are not prepared for adverse situations or to know what not to do. You can also get popping and cracking from punching someone. It’s a difference in approach, but when you’re not trained you may not know if what you’re doing is healing or hurting. Because of the very safe nature of chiropractic most times even untrained individuals will not cause problems, but the possibility exists. There have been serious injuries from people trying to practice chiropractic without a license.

      To address your question of walking on someones back without training in appropriate techniques. You are not likely to cause an injury, but it is possible, and I would not recommend it.

  17. Aeriam

    Ive popped my Finger joints for over 4 years. Its chronic and hard for me to stop. all these sites say popping doesn’t cause issues however my constant pain and stiffness of the joints begs to differ. Even typing locks them or causes large amounts of discomfort. W/e it is what it is. But saying its okay should be taken into consideration and used more sparingly especially when its not a studied topic.

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      You are correct, anything in excess is bad. I have tried to make that clear many times in this thread and in the main post. If it becomes compulsive, or something that you have to do then you have gone beyond therapeutic range. The same thing goes with exercise. It is great for you, however if you find your self having Or pushing your self everyday beyond your limits you will hurt your self. Even when treating very serious cases I will rarely adjust someone 2 days in a row. I will usually recommend every other day if that is needed. It’s important for your body to recover just as it is with exercise.

      You will note in the original post here that I said, “Doing this too often can stretch out the ligaments and predispose you to injury. This is often seen in gymnasts. Too much flexibility can be a bad thing. Just like too little can be. Remember, there are three aspects to good exercising, strength, flexibility, and endurance. Keep them all in balance and life is good.”

  18. daisy

    At the beginning, I only started cracking my knuckles, but now the cracking and bone popping area increased. Any bone/joint on the body you name, I may be able to crack. Fingers and toes, wrists and ankles, elbows and knees, neck, upper and lower back, shoulders, sides of the rib, hip?, and popping of the ear’s cartilage when pulling down. All these cracking are creeping my sister out (especially the neck). She says I could kill myself like that. Is that true?

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Anything is possible, however, it is very unlikely that you would kill your self by popping your joints. As long as you are only using normal motion to cause the pop then you are fine. The problem is when you try to put your head or joint in an abnormal position. Those people who grab their own head and twist are endangering themselves. I’ve had a few present to me after doing such a maneuver with torticollis. They could no longer straighten their head or turn it or what ever. They could have caused serious injury. If you are just turning your head normally or doing a little stretch and it pops then you are probably fine.

  19. Molaysia

    My ankle pops a lot and It wasa different kind of pop than my other ankle so I did some research and found out that the popping… Or snapping was because I had a subluxation or dislocated tendon in my ankle they say that it’s from spraining or injurying my ankle, but I can’t think if i ever did. Because for years now it has been this way. Should I bother going to the doctor or is it too late for that…. That is my question… I know what’s wrong it’s just what do I do now. It doesn’t hurt so much but, more like bothers me when I am playing a sport or something. Thanks for your time…. Molaysia

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      A tendon snapping like that can be a problem as it is not normal function, but it usually is just fine. I would not bother with it unless there is pain or other movement issues. The only thing that would really be done is to surgically replace the tendon sheath that was there. Either with some natural tissue or by some other means. However, because it doesn’t usually cause problems no surgeon would attempt that kind of surgery on an otherwise healthy person. You can try stretches or a brace to see if loosening the muscle or supporting the joint causes it to pop less. The bottom line is, if it’s not hurting there’s not much that a doctor would do.

  20. Natalie

    so is it bad for you or no my dad said it is im 10 and i like to prove him wrong can you tell me if its bad or not?????

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      You can tell your dad that he is wrong, but only if you also admit to him that you may be wrong too. Popping your joints is not bad. Popping your joints to excess is bad.

  21. Natalie

    he said that that i shoundn’t be looking up stuff like this.And i was not aloud to go on this site again.:[Too bad well i had one more comment if you were to brake your finger and crack your knuckle would it be bad for you i know it would hurt but is it bad???

  22. Natalie

    i need help i hace been cracking my knuckles for about 7 years and i cant stop i do it every twenty minutes i am never every stressed but today i cracked them so much that my fingers hurt and it hurts when i move them i have been sick for a week so i told my mom but she didnt belive me she just thought i wanted to stay home i constantly do it help

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      If it is something you “can’t stop” then you should treat it as an addiction. See my prior responses on this topic, and you may want to seek counseling or other professional help for addictions as anything in excess can be dangerous.

  23. Billy

    I was wondering if having your lower back popped 5 to 7 times a week is bad , i have had 3 spinal operations and have degenerative disc disease and arthritis in the L4-5 area, i have one therapist saying that my lower back should not be popped but at the same time i have another therapist telling me its more than ok, it hurts like hell for about 15 seconds then feels great after i have it done …but my concern is if popping that joint is making the disc at L4-5 stay inflamed or causing the degenerative disc disease progress any faster

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      I don’t know that I would recommend 5-7 times, but motion such as an adjustment provides can actually slow or halt degenerative disc disease I thought about typing my own, but this says it very well. “Good joint motion is essential for the health and nutrition of the discs and joints because it permits the exchange of nutrients, fluids, and waste. Good motion helps reduce pain, muscle spasms or imbalance, and improves nervous system function and overall health. Without movement, discs and joints may degenerate more quickly than normal. Motion also reduces the formation of scar tissue, which can lead to stiffness and degeneration.” Some conditions that you may have may be contraindicated so have a chiropractor do an exam to be sure.

      If you are not sure then you can also do a trial of care. Get adjusted 3 times a week for 2 weeks to see if it helps or if it makes things worse. Stop or continue accordingly.

  24. katie

    so, popping your back, knuckles, and neck are ok to an extent. but, i can also pop my ankle. i just take my toes in my hand and pull back, not too hard, and my ankle makes a big popping sound. is that bad?

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Same principle applies. If in the course of normal range of motion your joint pops without pain that is fine. If you are stretching and it happens to “pop” it’s not usually a bad thing. It’s when you are adding extra pressure at odd angles with force or doing it all the time, then it becomes a problem. If you are having a problem with any area though, contact a local chiropractor and get a thorough exam. Online advice is no replacement for a hands on examination.

  25. Provo Chiropractic

    That’s true about your point on doing anything in excess is bad. Too much food, too much exercise, too much sitting can all be bad for your health, but when each is done in moderation, it is fine.

  26. Mikey

    Both of my thumb knuckles, on the knuckles closest to my thumbnail, pop without me even doing anything to them. They just get kinda stiff, then when I bend them they pop. Lately they have been getting a little more stiff and popping more. Is this a sign of something worse to come?

  27. Jerico

    I have looked though all the posts, but haven’t seen you address my issue. I went to a 3 day conference. I was sitting through many seminars. They all lasted approximately an hour and a half to two hours each. Well, ever since then my tail bone has been hurting and popping whenever I stand up. What can I do to stop this from happening. I am 17 and athletic, so I don’t get why this is happening. Please help me. Thanks

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Jerico, though I am happy to help you solve your problem, you give me very limited information. I can only suspect what may have happened. Some of the things that have been discussed here may give you some insight as to why things pop, but I suggest you visit your local chiropractor to get a full examination. Likely your sacrum was compressed for a long period leading to some sort of joint dysfunction.

  28. Sheila

    Im 27 yrs old and I did see a chiropractor, but the treatment didnt help much. So I stop going, but I did finshed the treatment plan he offered. I then had a baby a yr later after treatment. I receive an epudural in hospital to have my baby. That night my back pain was so bad i was crying heating pads didnt help at all and no meds help either. Ever since I had that epudural my back pain has gotton worse to the point that i need my back popped every 1 to 2 hours everyday and after its popped the relive is only temp. When i do thing like clean up hold my baby my back hurts more and i need it popped. I did see a specialist but he did no x-rays and gave me pills for muscle spasims but that didnt even help also my neck needs to be popped to. What should i do, i cant stand this pain any longer. Who can i see that my help me. I only get my backed popped when my husband wants to do it. I liked to say I am overweight but not extreamlly. I weight 190 and im 5’1. I dont workout much but i try when i get a chance. walking is what i do most since i go to school. Walking from classes then to my car its quite some walk and then stairs. Some times im out of breath and need to catch up. But were can i go to get help not sure what to do anymore.

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      I can understand your frustration and see that you are really looking for something else to try. Let me address a few issues. Sometimes humans don’t have the answer and we don’t yet know how to fix it. If you are having such great difficulty the internet can be a good resource, but it will not replace having a physician who is willing to help you manage your case, someone who can point you in the direction of things to try and one that will keep searching for you and not give up. The internet cannot do the testing that you may require and cannot think. Please find a local physician to help guide you in this process be they a chiropractor, osteopathic, or medical physician. If you’ve tried chiropractic and you said it didn’t help much then and now you are having a new pain that began over a year later I suggest you get a new evaluation.

      If having your husband pop your back provides some temporary relief then perhaps having a trained professional do it will provide more.

      You say that you get winded just walking to your car. If that is the case then your health problems run much deeper than just your back pain. if you are 5’1″ and 190 lbs then you are more than just a little over weight. Your fitness level with just that information is very unhealthy. Here is a nice website with some information that may guide you in addressing your weight issue. (http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/). Obesity can be a cause in and of it’s self. Were I local for you I would have you come in. A personal trainer also might be of help.

  29. Laura

    Every morning when my 9 year old daughter wakes up, she twists both directions and pops her back, making it sound like popcorn. She is thin, willowy and very athletic and active: she does gymnastics, soccer, softball, plus we hike a lot. Someone told her that she’s damaging her spinal chord and vertibae, by pushing them out of alignment every time she does this. Is she actually doing any damage or is she getting ready for another day of activity? She doesn’t do it all day long; always in the morning and then maybe once during the day after that.
    I myself have gone to a chiropractor for 8 years and he has changed my life. I had severe neck and lower back pain and over time he has alieviated them both without medication. However, he is not a ‘grip-it and rip-it’ chiro….he manipulates and massages to get the best results. So, to me, I’m jealous when I hear how flexible her joints are.
    I do believe my daughter is too young for a chiropractor and doesn’t necessarily need one. Just looking for some insight. Thanks! :)

  30. Gray

    Hello there, cmnacnud! Here’s my question for you. I am studying to be a sign language interpreter, so I use my hands constantly. The big issue that currently I’m grappling with is the fact that, when I am signing, my hands tend to curl in a bit. For example, I have to intentionally stretch to get my open palm and fingers into a totally flat position. My fingers usually tend to pull in, making the signs look “lazy”, in a way. I’ve been told that what would help me is to do some stretches to try and improve my finger and palm flexibility, and as I was researching potential stretches online, I came a page that said “Habitual knuckle-cracking results in functional hand impairment and therefore should be discouraged.” And then it struck me; I pop my knuckles all the time (at least 20 times a day, I would say.) Could this be the source of my decreased palm flexibility and fingers which want to curl in? If so, what simple stretches/other home remedies would you recommend to improve my finger flexibility? Thanks.

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Habitual knuckle cracking would more likely lead to hypermobility rather than decreased flexibility. Not that it is a better option. I would never recommend knuckle cracking as a good habit, but more than likely you are having more problems than just your hands. I would recommend having your neck, upper back, shoulder and whole arm examined. You may have a “double crush” syndrome or you may just need functional rehabilitation for your hand to increase the flexibility.

  31. briana

    im 10 and i pop my knuckels every hour … i also pop my toe .. this is a very bad habit but i cant stop ive tried but my fingers and toes just go stif and hurt…i rearly pop my knees… my dad does it and he tells me to stop and he tells me off but it doesent work ……..

  32. Tamara Bowden

    Thanks for the info. I just started a new job and my body is so sore and my back is popping on its own every once a while. I was really inactive and now I work in a nursing home and my body is adjusting to the rigorous activity. I was scared from the popping, but it doesn’t hurt..(actually feels good when it happens) so I’m gonna give my body a chance to catch up to my activity level. If it continues to be sore after 2 weeks I’ll go to the dr. Thanks for the info again.

  33. Babalouski

    Hey, I have pretty much the same problems as everyone who’s posted a comment thingie, except I am twelve years old and it hurts all the time , everywhere. I “pop” my neck,back,fingers,toes,shoulders,wrists,anklesand my hips. I have been doing research on it more and more and I am getting the same answers. Exept all of these people who have these problems are alot older and this scares me,as I am so young. Another thing is my perents are not in the posistion right now where they could even look at getting professional help for this, and I was wondering what you recomend I do. As I type this, my neck and back are aching,and I’m thinking to crack my nuckles when I’m done. Also thinking how much i want to crack my toes and ankles, and looking forward to it to. (only because I know it will reelieve pain. ) and also the joints I feel have become looser and less controlable.

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      I’m sorry to hear that. I cannot do anything over a website except recommend that you seek out a local professional such as a chiropractor. Constant joint pain can be a lot of things. You would need to have some testing done to figure out what is going on before any treatment recommendations are ever made.

  34. Ashley

    Hi I have a couple of questions. I’m currently a high school student, and I have long classes that are ninty-six minutes long. All of my classes excipt for one, have me seating in a desk. When I get up from my desk after class is over my knees crack really loud. I was wondering if I moved and stretched my legs a lot during class would this stop them from cracking? I also pop my back every other day, because of back pains ’caused by slouching. So I would have my chubby bunny of a brother step on my back to pop it, and afterwards I would feel relieved, and exhausted. Is having my brother step on my back to relieve the pain bad?

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Yes, stretching during class may help. “Popping” when you move and stretch is fine, but I would suggest for other safety reasons not having a large brother step on you.

  35. yogi

    hi. i am a 33 yrs old female. i do yoga about 3 times a week and run only sporadically. after exercising i am often sore in my low and mid back. actually, now that i think about it – its in my upper back as well. and becoming more frequent. i receive temporary, but addictive relief from my husband cracking my back. he does it three ways every time – 1. i face him and put my arms around his neck. he then picks me up and squeezes me working his arms up my back. 2. i turn around and back into him and cross my arms across my chest (mummy style) and he picks me up and squeezes me again. more popping. 3. with my back still to him – i clasp my hands behind my neck and and picks me up and squeezes again. more popping.

    he does this for me 3-5 times a day. again, i know its only temporary relief. but is it bad to do it? especially so often? why do you think i get the need to crack my back so often after exercise?

    also, when i take a deep breath in, its sort of stopped short because it feels like i need to crack my back even more. is this odd? hope you have some answers for me. thanks

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Popping by it’s self is not bad. Feeling the need to do it so often is an indicator that something else is going on. Either an addictive behavior or a core weakness that needs to be addressed or some instability. Being active by doing things like yoga does not prevent all problems and it’s possible that you may just be making your self hyper mobile. This may especially be the case if you are not doing any strength training. Fitness has 3 aspects that I recommend you think about: strength, flexibility, endurance. If you are lacking in any one of those areas you may cause yourself problems. If all you do is yoga then you may need to do some strength training and cardio. If all you do is run then think about adding some stretches and weights to your routine. You get the idea. The most important thing to do is, if you are having chronic pain in your back go see your local chiropractor and get an examination. You may be someone who doesn’t need the adjustments so much as you might need strengthening. Good luck.

  36. Jason

    Hey I’m 12 almost thirteen, and my step mom gets ticked at me when i crack my knuckles(I crack them every ten to twenty minutes) but she thinks I’ll get arthritis.. Can cracking knuckles be bad for you? I just can’t break the habbit.

  37. Kelsey Blasingame

    I’m curious… I was in a car wreck about 3 years ago and now my neck and upper back get really sore (although the xrays just pointed to my lumbar vertebrae) and my lower back too. I pop my neck probably 1-5 times a day, but every time I do I pop it about 5 times or more in a row. Does this make the “excess” worse? It’s kind of like a continuous thing… And I often can’t even tell if it makes it feel better; it just is a habit sometimes when I feel that pressure.

    I went to a physical therapist for about a month and then a chiropractor for 2 visits about a year ago and then my dad got upset with the costs so I stopped going. I often take pain releavers and I have muscle relaxers for when it gets really bad, but it’s been a lot better since I stopped wearing a backpack when I have more than one class in a day (I’m in college and have a rolling backpack for those days).

    I’m not sure what exactly I’m asking, but I would appreciate a reply. Thank you!

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Kelsey, I’m sorry to hear about your situation. The cost involved in health care is often a complicating factor to injuries. This means that people don’t get the care that they probably should due to the cost. The great news is that our bodies are usually able to compensate and will usually get to a state of function that allows us to proceed despite poor healing. It sounds like you have gotten to that stage. The problem with that state is that you have to overcome the new adaptations as well as the old injury to recover. I would recommend contacting a few chiropractors in your area to ask them if they can assist you financially because you want to get better, but can’t afford it. Government regulations and insurance companies have made it difficult to make case by case exceptions and help people in your situation, and so many chiropractors just don’t mess with it, but you may find some and they may be able to present a reasonable fee schedule to you. I do recommend returning for treatment.

  38. Jenna

    Hey.

    Im 18 and have been popping my knuckles for long as i can remember. It hurts if i dont. My fingers feel stiff and once i push down on them they pop and i feel so much better. You say its bad to pop all the time but it hurts if i dont. Why is that?

    Does being double jointed make a difference? I was told but i dont knkw if its true or not

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      It is likely degeneration or habit. Either they are damaged and need the added decrease of pressure created by the pop or your pain is not from the joint, but rather chemically produced by your brain in order to facilitate continuance of a habit that has been cultivated. Being double jointed is simply hypermobility of a joint it should not increase or decrease the need for range of motion activities. I have not seen any studies specifically on the topic, but can only speak from an educated perspective.

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