It is a question I get asked frequently at the clinic, why do my joints pop? To understand why joints pop, we first need to review the structure of the joints.
By definition a joint is where two bones connect. Between the joints there is synovial fluid. Within this fluid there are dissolved gases such as oxygen and carbon dioxide. When the joint is stretched the gas bubbles collapse which in turn cause the ‘popping’ sound. It takes about 20 minutes for these gases to build up to ‘pop’ again. The ‘popping’ sound is a result of the dissolved gas bubbles escaping the joint.
Does Popping Your Joint Cause Arthritis?
The short answer is no. As you can see from the above description, the ‘popping’ sound from your knuckles is entirely related to the gas escaping from the joint, and not from wearing down the joint surface. So if you have a friend or family member who loves to pop their knuckles, tell them to pop away!
Here is a quick video showing what happens when joints pop: