Here’s What’s Really Going On When You Crack Your Knuckles

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The counterclaim to Roston and Haines’ interpretation came from a trio named Unsworth, Dowson and Wright in 1971. Much like the previous pair, they used a similar procedure to confirm the inner workings of the joints. However, the three came to a very different conclusion. For them, the cracking sound was the result of the collapse of the bubble between the joints, not its formation.

Image: YouTube/Vox

Since that study over 40 years ago, both interpretations have been used in publications on the matter, proving the scientific divide. However, the knuckle-cracking debate took another turn in April 2015, as a number of scientists took a closer look at the issue. Surprisingly, the inspiration came from an unexpected source.

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Image: YouTube/Vox

Working as a professor of radiology at the University of California, Robert Boutin decided to kick-start the research on joint-cracking thanks to his 11-year-old daughter. Her curiosity on the matter inspired him to begin a new study, but the overall divisiveness of the debate also played a big role.

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