Joint cracking is the manipulation of joints to produce a sound and related "popping" sensation. It is sometimes performed by physical therapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, and masseurs in Turkish baths pursuing a variety of outcomes.
The cracking of joints, especially knuckles, was long believed to lead to arthritis and other joint problems. However, this is not supported by medical research.
The cracking mechanism and the resulting sound is caused by dissolved gas (nitrogen gas) cavitation bubbles suddenly collapsing inside the joints. This happens when the joint cavity is stretched beyond its normal size. The pressure inside the joint cavity drops and the dissolved gas suddenly comes out of solution and takes gaseous form which makes a distinct popping noise. To be able to crack the same knuckle again requires waiting about 20 minutes before the bubbles dissolve back into the synovial fluid and will be able to form again.
It is possible for voluntary joint cracking by an indivi