Cracking fingers and knuckles can be satisfying. But what if this is a tic? Let’s look at this and the problems that may arise.
Finger and knuckle cracking can be motor-tics as a result of Tourette. Although many people do this for fun, those with tics do so to bring relief from a sensory urge or internal pressure to do so.
In this case cracking isn’t fun, but necessary. This can bring on stress and joint pain.
Cracking fingers and knuckles has been a tic of mine for years
Ever since I learned to do this, it’s been a tic. Either pulling on my fingers, bending them backwards or cracking knuckles. This sometimes increases when I am in a quiet environment like a library.
I get a fuzzy feeling around the joints, similar to the one I get around my eyebrows or mouth when a tic comes on. This urge to do a tic won’t go away until it’s done.
The problem is, the more I click my fingers over time, the more I get a physical sensation or build up in the area.
This makes it hard to know when it is a tic, or just an uncomfortable feeling that goes away once I have cracked the joint.
Could it be ADHD?
Sometimes I do it because hey, it’s fun.
There is no urge to do it beforehand, not a sensory one at least. The desire isn’t because of a tic but because I like to do it. I enjoy the sound and the satisfaction.
This is true for a lot of my behaviours. Sometimes I whistle, sometimes I will hum something. Other times I will swing on my computer chair.
ADHD has me moving. A lot.
This also makes it difficult to know when this is a tic, or simply me being hyperactive.
I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome and ADHD as a child, and the two conditions go hand in hand.
Some people with ADHD may crack joints, but without the tic-like urge beforehand. For them (and myself occasionally), it is just a way to burn energy and move around.
Is cracking fingers and knuckles harmful?
This healthline article is an interesting read. Firstly, it states there is no evidence to suggest cracking fingers and knuckles causes harm (although states there aren’t many studies on this).
Secondly, it provides a link to this article about a doctor that cracked his knuckles on one hand but not the other for 50 YEARS! He reported no signs of arthritis.
That is dedication to the cause.
This is good news. However as true with many studies, tics need to be taken into account.
Severe tics can bring on much more forceful and frequent movements than the standard joint-crack, and therefore simply saying it is unharmful won’t always be accurate.
This really does depend on the person.
Finger and knuckle cracking tics conclusion
Thankfully, there is little evidence to suggest cracking joints causes arthritis or other kinds of harm.
But that isn’t to say doing it often won’t lead to injury or permanent damage. Especially for those with more forceful tics.
Like many motor tics, it is important for someone experiencing them to see a specialist, and detail how the tics manifest.
There are many ways to prevent harm whether it be medication, therapy or lifestyle changes.
For anyone reading on behalf of a loved one, be patient with them. It may be annoying or unpleasant to hear, but if this is done as a result of a tic disorder, it isn’t fun for them either.
But knowing the cause is the fastest way to improving the situation.