I just ran across a new article examining the prevalance of hand osteoarthritis (OA) in habitual knuckle crackers. I have to admit, not only did I find this article amusing, but I am also not at all surprised by the results.
The examiners of this study performed a retrospective case-control study, in which participants had x-rays taken of their hands over a five year period. They compared individuals with diagnosed hand OA and those without, and had each group document their knuckle cracking behavior.
The results: A history of habitual knucle cracking does not appear to be a risk-factor for hand OA.
I suspect these results occured due to effects of knuckle cracking being chemical/neurophysiological vs. biomechanical. Does this further support the effects of manipulation being neurophysiological? Maybe. Let me know what you guys think.
deWeber K, Olszewski M, Ortolano R. Knuckle Cracking and Hand Osteoarthritis. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine 2011: 24 (2); 169-174.