Is cracking your knuckles bad for you? 5 Joint myths busted

When it comes to what can hurt our joints, illusions abound. So we
asked Torrance Walker, MD, an orthopedic surgeon on the medical staff at
Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center – Fort Worth, to help clear up the confusion surrounding five common misconceptions.

1. Climbing stairs can harm your knees.

FALSE.

“In fact, climbing stairs can help strengthen the muscles around your kneecap to help prevent future knee injuries,” Dr. Walker said. If climbing stairs causes you knee pain, talk to your doctor.

Download the treatment guide for hip and knee pain.

2. Most athletes will require joint replacement surgery later in life.

DEPENDS.

“In general, nonimpact athletes are at the same risk of requiring
joint replacement surgery as other individuals,” Dr. Walker said. “However,
impact athletes may be at a higher risk of joint injury, which can lead to
arthritis — and ultimately joint replacement — down the road.”

3. Popping your knuckles will give you arthritis in your hands.

FALSE.

“When you ‘pop’ your knuckles, you’re simply releasing nitrogen gas
that builds up in the joints,” Dr. Walker said. “It won’t lead to arthritis.”

4. Running is bad for your joints.

FALSE.

“While I don’t recommend running to individuals who already have joint pain, it’s a great exercise for most people,” Dr. Walker said.

5. Carrying a heavy purse can cause shoulder issues.

MAYBE.

“You should always be careful about picking up heavy items,” Dr. Walker
said. “Lift carefully by keeping your upper arm close to the body to avoid
straining your shoulder, which could lead to issues like rotator cuff tears
down the road.”

Discover how you can move better today.

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Is cracking your knuckles bad for you? 5 Joint myths busted