Bones of contention (Myths about bones)

From cracking knuckles to eating sour food, there is a lot of misunderstanding about what causes arthritis

cracking knucklesUnlike diseases like heart disorders or cancer, arthritis is not a much-discussed disease. Hence, it is common to find people harbouring misconceptions about the disease.

While there are several myths surrounding arthritis, there is one that is really interesting. A lot of people believe [and even convince others to do so] that cracking knuckles leads to arthritis.

A lot of people are in the habit of cracking their knuckles. When we apply pressure to folded knuckles, the fluid within shifts to cause vacuum bubbles.

These bubbles then pop to make the snapping sound. However, cracking sound is not unique to the knuckles—our other joints too are capable of ‘cracking’. It’s as simple as that.

Cracking knuckles is a personality trait that indicates nervousness and has no direct connection to arthritis.

However, that does not make it a safe thing to do. When you crack knuckles, you are unnecessarily putting pressure on the ligaments and cartilage. The cracking may not cause arthritis, but if you keep doing it over and over, the ligaments might get over-stressed, which may then lead to arthritis.

Also, in the long run, it will affect your grip and lead to stiffness, swelling and pain. Still the point remains that no study has ever tied knuckle-cracking to arthritis.

Sometimes, though, patients of osteoarthritis do notice bumps around knuckles, but that’s not necessarily its cause or effect.

Another, misconception about the cause of arthritis is that sitting in an air-conditioned environment for prolonged period causes osteoarthritis.

An air-conditioned environment and arthritis are in no way related. If you already have arthritis, cold climate can induce pain in your arthritic joint due to vasoconstriction of blood vessels.

sour foodThe kind of things people think about arthritis never ceases to amaze me. Recently, I came across a funny connection between arthritis and food! A myth that is doing the rounds is that eating sour food causes osteoarthritis. Once again, this belief is not supported by scientific evidence.

Food ingredients have not known to be the cause of osteoarthritis. Food comes into play after you are diagnosed with arthritis, as then it directly affects your condition.

Doctors often ask you to refrain from eating foods that cause inflammation and aggravate your arthritis. But food is certainly not the reason you get arthritis.

So, go ahead and crack those knuckles occasionally to feel invigorated, but do not make it a habit!

These can cause arthritis…

Having busted these myths about the causes of arthritis, I feel compelled to share the risk factors associated with the condition with you. These include:


Arthritis is often seen in people above 40 years. As one becomes old, the cartilage becomes thinner as a result of which the person is likely to develop arthritis.


If a fracture is not perfectly healed, it leads to more wear and tear of the joint, leading to osteoarthritis.


If you are overweight, it places additional load on the joints, hastening the breakdown of cartilage and causing arthritis.


Families with OA history are 3.5 times more likely to develop osteoarthritis in their lifetime compared to those people without the same family history.


Research reports from The World Arthritis Foundation suggest that women experience osteoarthritis 10 times more than men.

Sedentary lifestyles

Physical inactivity increases your chances of getting the disease because it leads to weight gain.

Dr Rahul Khot, consulting orthopaedic surgeon at Asha Parikh Research centre and BCJ General Hospital, Guru Nanak hospital and research centre.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here