ABSENT-MINDED CRACKING CAN LEAD TO PROBLEMS IN THE LONG RUN Dr. Ravichandra Kelkar, Consultant Orthopedics, Columbia Asia Hospital Hebbal
It is surprising sometimes how are small little but ignorant habits can be a cause of major health concern for our body in the longer run. One such habit that many people do almost absent-mindedly is that of cracking their knuckles. Studies have shown that as many as 54 percent of people crack their knuckles.
Some of the reasons due to which people tend to do so include:
- Some people are just fond of the sound that knuckle cracking produces, even while they are not aware about the same.
- Certain other like the way it feels. Some are under the belief that cracking of knuckles makes more room in the joint, relieving tension and increasing mobility. There is no medical evidence if cracking actually does that.
- When nervousness or stress shoots into some people, they tend to turn to cracking their knuckles.
- It becomes an unconscious habit which does not demand much of efforts.
HOW DOES THE SOUND OCCUR?
There are not very specific reasons known for the pop sound that comes when the knuckles are cracked. Some attribute it to the nitrogen bubbles either forming or collapsing in the joint fluid, while others believe it comes from movement of the ligaments around the knuckle. The tendons or muscles moving over the joint can also cause the sound.
CRACKING SIDE EFFECTS
There are no major concerns surrounding the knuckle cracking. However, if the cracking is painful, leads to swelling or changes the shape of the joint then it can be a cause of worry as it may be due to underlying gout or arthritis.
In rare scenarios, there are also chances of the finger being pulled out of the joint or the ligaments around the joint being injured.
WHEN TO VISIT A DOCTOR?
As stated above as long as there is no pain or swelling or change in the joint shape, there is not a reason to worry. But if any of these signs show up or if your finger looks crooked or swollen, then one must get it evaluated by the doctor. The pain or swelling in the joints is usually due to an underlying condition and should be checked.
Usually the noises coming from the joints are not a worrisome symptom but if that persists over a long period of time with pain, then it could be a problem.
Cracking or popping accompanied with pain or swelling could also be a sign of:
Meniscus tears: The meniscus is a rubbery C-shaped disc that cushions the knee and absorbs shock but twisting or other sudden harsh movements can sometimes lead to its tear.
Cartilage wear or injury: The cartilage covering the bones can sometimes get injured and result in breaking off of a piece and a catch in the joint.
ARE CRACKING JOINTS RELATED TO ARTHRITIS?
In a usual scenario, cracking or popping neither damages the joints, nor symbolizes initial arthritis stages. But sometimes a worn cartilage in the joints or the rubbing of bones together can cause pain.
However, if a person has pre-existing conditions like arthritis or other bone/joint related health conditions then they are suggested to avoid cracking their knuckles. People with weak bones should also not get into the cracking habit. Repetitive cracking can potentially become a botheration of we are not aware and informed. Cracking has also been observed to be socially annoying and a negative distraction for people around you. Some tips that can be used to break the cracking habit are:
- Be observant and notice when or why you are likely to knuckle. Address that cause to avoid knuckling in a similar scenario next time.
- If stress is resulting in cracking for you then come with alternatives for yourself to relieve that stress through deep breathing, exercise, or meditation.
- If you tend to crack too frequently and mostly due to nervousness or stress, then keep a stress ball or worry stone near you to be squeezed or rubbed respectively when the situation arises.
- When the habit is too rooted, some people also suggest wearing a rubber band on the wrist and snapping it every time one is about to crack the knuckles.
- Stay aware of yourself and consciously make the efforts for your desired results.
Dr. Mohan Kumar HN, Consultant – Interventional Cardiologist, Columbia Asia Hospital Sarjapur Road
We all know that our heart is the most significant yet the most sensitive organ of our body. It goes without saying that our heart hence requires special attention and care. Reasons, both external as well as internal can affect our heart. While the lifestyle being lived these days has thrown enough light on the concerns related to heart like cardiac arrest, heart failure, heart attack, etc. There still remains one very serious medical condition that is not a result of the lifestyle choices really but is something grave enough to be known about. The condition being referred to here is called cardiac tamponade. To put it simply, it is the compression of the heart due to a fluid being collected in the sac that surrounds the heart. This thin, double-walled sac around the heart is called pericardium.
How it occurs?
There is a sac that encloses the heart and the heart muscle. When the space between that sac (pericardium) gets filled with blood or fluids, it results in cardiac tamponade which is a serious medical condition. The filling with the fluid creates a lot of pressure on the heart and the pressure in turn, does not allow the ventricles of the heart to expand completely and hence does not let the heart function properly.
The cavity around the heart can fill with bodily fluids or blood enough to compress the heart. As the fluid presses on the heart, it becomes more and more difficult for the blood to enter the heart. Naturally, the amount of blood reaching the heart reduces.
As a result, less oxygen-rich blood gets pumped to the rest of the body or the heart is unable to pump blood adequately to the rest of the body which can eventually result in organ failure, shock, and cardiac arrest or can even be fatal.
Some of the causes that can create such a situation are:
·It is generally the result of penetration of the pericardium that causes cardiac tamponade. Some of the causes of pericardial penetration or fluid accumulation can be:
·Wounds from a stab or gunshot
·Explicit trauma to the chest due to a car or industrial accident
·Perforation that can happen accidentally after cardiac catheterization, angiography, or insertion of a pacemaker
·Punctures made during placement of a central line
·Breast or lung cancer that might spread to the pericardial sac
·A ruptured aortic aneurysm
·Pericarditis, an inflammation disease in which the immune system by mistake attacks healthy tissues
·Chest extremely exposed to radiation
·Other infections that are likely to affect the heart
Since cardiac tamponade is a serious medical condition that can even be fatal, it is important to watch out for the likely symptoms some of which include:
·Restlessness and anxiety
·Low blood pressure
·Chest pain radiating to your neck, shoulders, or back
·Difficulty in breathing or taking deep breaths
·Discomfort that’s relieved by sitting or leaning forward
·Dizziness and loss of consciousness
Once you observe any of the symptoms, you should seek medical help at the earliest. The diagnosis of cardiac tamponade usually consists of three signs that a doctor recognizes, which are also called as Beck’s triad. These signs include:
·Low blood pressure and weak pulse as the volume of the blood being pumped by the heart gets reduced.
·Extended neck veins due to the difficulty they experience in returning blood to the heart.
·A rapid heartbeat along with muffled heart sounds because of the increasing layer of fluid inside the pericardium.
Some other diagnostic tests like an echocardiogram, a thoracic CT scan, a magnetic resonance imaging are also done after the above observations to confirm a cardiac tamponade.
However, once diagnosed, cardiac tamponade needs hospital immediate hospitalization and emergency invasive treatment to relieve pressure on the heart before treating the underlying condition. The patient needs to be stabilized too before the procedures are undertaken.