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Why do my thumb knuckles always crack?
April 21, 2011 8:13 AM   Subscribe

Why do my thumb knuckles always crack? And how can I stop it? It seems like every time I bend either of my thumbs all the way, they "pop". I have no other poppy bones, and I am a 28 year old male, and neither of my thumbs have ever been injured as far as I know. It started about a year ago.
posted by crawltopslow to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
 
The human body is weird and idiosyncratic. Joints are some of the weirdest parts.

Welcome to getting old.
posted by valkyryn at 8:36 AM on April 21, 2011


I am highly succeptible to crepitus in almost every part of my body (some parts worse than others, but you name it it can crack, neck, shoulder, elbows, knees, jaw, hip, back, ankle, toes, wrist...). The combination of range of motion exercises and resistance / strength training of nearby muscles reduces it significantly for me for the joints that too readily crack, though it comes back if I am tense and anxious or if I stop stretching / exercising the joint.
posted by idiopath at 8:37 AM on April 21, 2011


My wife is a chiropractor (though SINYC), and when I get poppy joints in my hand, she adjusts the hand (and elbow and neck). Then I'm to ice my forearm muscles, and then massage them. Then it's squeezing a stress ball and flexing exercises.
That clears it up until I get lazy about the way I hold the mouse and forget the exercises.
So:
a. Do hand exercises for counteracting carpal tunnel/RSI, and if you can
b. Go to a chiropractor or PT and *do* what they tell you.
posted by Straw Cab at 8:54 AM on April 21, 2011


I am starting to think it may be related to the fact that I'm a professional online poker player, and make about 4 clicks a second, for 8 hour days, 5 days a week... thumb positioning while I hold mouse? but it seems to happen on both thumbs.
posted by crawltopslow at 9:32 AM on April 21, 2011


This sounds kind of awesome, actually. Maybe try to enjoy it
posted by Patbon at 4:10 PM on April 21, 2011


It happens to me all the time. All I have to do to crack my thumbs is bend them. I figure if it doesn't hurt there's nothing wrong.
posted by IndigoRain at 9:12 PM on April 21, 2011


IndigoRain: The wikipedia article on the subject disagrees, for whatever that's worth:
"... however, habitual knuckle-crackers were more likely to have hand swelling and 25% lower grip strength. Habitual knuckle-cracking was associated with manual labour, biting of the nails, smoking, and drinking alcohol in the study participants and their families. The study concluded that habitual knuckle-cracking results in functional hand impairment.[5]

Medical doctor Donald Unger regularly cracked the knuckles of his left hand for fifty years while not manipulating those of his right. No arthritis or other ailments formed in either hand, and he was awarded 2009's Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine. [6]"
posted by idiopath at 8:30 AM on April 22, 2011


..however, habitual knuckle-crackers were more likely to have hand swelling and 25% lower grip strength. Habitual knuckle-cracking was associated with manual labour, biting of the nails, smoking, and drinking alcohol in the study participants and their families. The study concluded that habitual knuckle-cracking results in functional hand impairment.

Aw, fuck me, that's me to a T.. and I can crack about half my fingers on each hand just by making a firm fist, roll my wrist to make it crack *constantly*, crack my knees by stretching hard, occasionally crack my freakin' STERNUM (that's a weird feeling). I'm so boned!

...oh wait, manual labor? I hardly do any of that. Must be a fluke then, my grip strength will remain fine!
posted by FatherDagon at 2:57 PM on April 22, 2011


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