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We have all been told stories at some point during our lives like, “don’t pull that silly face, if the wind changes you’ll get stuck like that”. But how many of us have been told by friends or family that cracking your knuckles is bad for your hands and can cause arthritis?

Image by: stakerchiro

Image by: stakerchiro

This commonplace wives tale is quite an inaccurate miss-conception of what “cracking a joint” really causes or achieves within the human body. Osteopaths and Chiropractors alike utilise the skill of joint manipulation for a variety of reasons within their treatment plans which can result in a patient’s body feeling more mobile, having a larger and less restricted range of movement and in some instances it can completely alleviate a patients pain all together.

What causes the popping noise heard when a joint is ‘cracked’?

Although the research around the area is a bit woolly, recent evidence suggests that the popping noise could be caused by a build-up of carbon dioxide within a joint capsule collapsing. In engineering terms this is known as a ‘cavitation’ which refers to the formation of a vapour cavity within a liquid. The changing in pressures within the liquid of a dynamic environment causes the formation of cavities or ‘voids’ which when subjected to areas of high pressure can collapse causing a popping sound. When related to a joint in a human body, a joint capsule surrounds the area at which the two bones meet. This is  filled with synovial joint fluid which helps to lubricate the area. When the joint moves in everyday activities, the pressure changes can cause similar cavities to that in the engineering model but this gas consists of carbon dioxide. If someone was to apply pressure to this joint in a certain way, it can cause this bubble of gas to pop resulting in a clicking or popping sound. Think of popping some bubble wrap!

Joint

What are the benefits of popping a joint?

One of the biggest benefits from having a joint manipulated is to increase its range of movement. In an otherwise stiff or immobile area of the body such as the spine, this technique can be applied to greatly improve the amount of movement that the joint can move through. Indirectly, a stiff neck can occur from a lack of movement in the lower spine meaning the neck has to move more and gets tired and achy. If the area of the lower spine can be identified and freed up via a manipulation technique it can take the emphasis off of the neck which can help to reduce pain and improve all round function. Another benefit of joint manipulation is to free up pain sensitive structures within the joints that may have become stuck in between the joining parts of two bones. When the joint is manipulated it essentially helps to ‘gap’ the area releasing and trapped structures that may be causing a patients pain symptoms. This opening of the joint also results in an increased amount of fluid allowed in to the area so more metabolic waste can be transported out of the area and also more bodily fluids carrying essential nutrition can be more readily absorbed giving the area the best chance of healing quickly.

In 2009 a medical doctor named Donald Unger won the lg Nobel Prize in medicine, which is a parody version of the annual Nobel Prize, by confirming there is no harm in such an intervention. He did this by cracking the knuckles on his left hand every day for 60 years but never his right! Can you imagine only cracking one side of your knuckles and never the other for 60 years, what a commitment! After the 60 year period both hands were tested and imaged finding NO arthritis or other ailments in either of his hands!

So in conclusion, there is NO quantifiable or substantiated evidence to suggest that joint ‘cracking’ causes arthritis in the hands or fingers or in the rest of the human body for that matter! There have been no studies to date that have been able to conclude that cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis. However, there is evidence that suggests joint manipulation used by Osteopaths and Chiropractors have some very positive benefits to the human body. Although these types of techniques aren’t appropriate for everyone, it’s nice to know that this old wives tale about such an intervention as this does not in fact cause arthritis but actually has much more positive healing implications to the human body.

 Well that’s one wives tale down, I just hope it’s not windy outside………….

Written by Wayne Beck, Osteopath

References

Protopapas, M. Cymet, T. Protapapas, M. (2002). “Joint cracking and popping: understanding noises that accompany articular release”J Am Osteopath Assoc 102 (5): 283–7

Improbable Research (2015). Winners of the lg Nobel Prize. http://www.improbable.com/ig/winners/#ig2009 online [Access date 02/11/2015]

Unsworth, A. Dowson, D. Wright, V. (1971). ‘Cracking joints’. “A bioengineering study of cavitation in the metacarpophalangeal joint”. Ann Rheum Dis 30 (4): 348–58

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We thought we would try to help you out this year with finding the right gift for that certain person so we have put together some beautiful (and well priced) therapy gift packages as well as gift set that are already wrapped up for you.

Therapy Gift Vouchers

“Pure Relaxation” 

An indulgent treat to deeply relax the whole body and help you unwind

60 Mins Massage followed by a 30 min Reflexology treatment.

£60 for 1hr 30 min package.

 

“Top & Toe”

The perfect Christmas gift or may be indulge yourself after all that shopping.

40 min Indian Head Massage followed by a 30 min Reflexology treatment

£47 for 1 hr 10min package

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 Gift Sets (all wrapped up for you)

Fitness Gift Set £17.25  (Total Value of £19.25)

Skipping Rope

Massage Ball

Coconut Water

Epsom Salts 1kg

* Could possibly substitute with a crystal deodorant

 

Detox Gift Set £26.48  (Total Value of £29.48)

Himalayan Salts 1kg

Cactus Dry Body Brush

Almond Oil Massage oil

Essential Oil – Juniper OR Grapefruit

 

Pamper Relaxation Gift Set £30.00  (Total Value of £32.50)

Rose Bath Oil

Rose Body Massage Oil

Oil Burner (White, Red or Black)

Lavender Essential Oil

 

Foodies Gift Set £17.50  (Total Value £18.68)

Coconut Oil

Bio Snaky Germinator

Yannoh Drink

Himalayan Salts 1/2kg

 

Call the clinic to book your package or gift set if you want to make sure you don’t miss out on these offers.

At this time of year we need warming foods. Here is an easy and delicious recipe from Daniela, our Nutritionist, that will get you through those cold winter nights with all the health benefits of good food.

Simple and easy to cook, use whatever seasonal fresh vegetables you prefer. I love broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, carrot and mange tout  – bursting with colour, flavour and nutrients. A little vegetable stock and some fresh lime juice lightens this dish. For added protein, you can include some cooked mung beans or pan-roasted tempeh or tofu.

The aromatic curry paste can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Make a batch and then use it for curries or it can be added to stir-fries and soups.

Nutrition benefits:
Enzyme-rich vegetables aid the cleansing and detoxification process and the aromatic flavours of the curry paste will stimulate the circulation and boost metabolism.

Curcumin is the active ingredient in Turmeric and provides the vivid yellow colouring as well as the impressive list of health properties. Turmeric has been linked to the prevention of cancer cell growth and can be highly beneficial in the management of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, asthma, eczema and inflammatory bowel disease. It’s also rich in vital minerals – manganese, zinc, iron and also B vitamins.

Black pepper is known to enhance digestion and work as an anti-inflammatory; the magic compound in black pepper is called piperine. It works hand in hand with turmeric by boosting the bioavailability of curcumin.

Ginger has potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. It helps to boost immune function and combat cellular damage. Black pepper is known to enhance digestion and work as an anti-inflammatory; the magic compound in black pepper is called piperine. It works hand in hand with turmeric by boosting the bioavailability of curcumin.

Garlic boosts the immune system, helping to protect us against infections and illness. Garlic contains allicin, a potent phytonutrient that is great for cardiac health. It has been shown to help lower blood pressure, inhibit blood clotting and promote healthy cholesterol levels.

Shiitake mushrooms are well known for their medicinal properties including enhancing immune function, specifically in assisting our macrophage cells to ‘scavenge’ and destroy cancer cells. Shiitake mushrooms can also help to reduce cholesterol and are a great source of antioxidant minerals, zinc, manganese and selenium.

Aromatic Curry Paste
1 shallot, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 sticks lemongrass, (remove the tough ends) finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 kaffir lime leaf
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons chopped ginger or galangal
1 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
3-5 dried red chillies (depending on how you hot you like it!), deseeded and chopped finely
1 tablespoon grated fresh turmeric or 1 teaspoon dry

Add all these ingredients in to a food processor or blender and mix for 1 minute until combined.
Add 1 – 2 tablespoons of water if paste looks a little dry.

To make the vegetable curry

Ingredients

300 ml coconut milk
300 ml vegetable stock
2 – 3 tablespoons homemade curry paste (see recipe above)
450 g (14 1/2 oz) assorted seasonal vegetables (carrot, mange tout, asparagus, peas, broccoli, cauliflower)
Handful of shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2/3 Kaffir lime leaves, crushed
1 lime
sea salt and pepper to taste
fresh herbs to garnish (Thai basil or coriander)

  1. Combine the coconut milk and vegetable stock in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.
  2. Add the detox curry paste and kaffir lime leaves.
  3. Simmer gently for 3 – 5 minutes.
  4. Add the vegetables and mushrooms and simmer for another 5 minutes until the vegetables are just tender. (Include the pan-roasted tempeh, mung beans or tofu at this stage if using)
  5. Squeeze in 1 tablespoon of lime juice and season with a little Himalayan sea salt and black pepper to taste. Add a little water if needed
  6. Ladle curry straight into serving bowls and garnish with coriander. Serve with some brown basmati rice for slow-release energy if you like.

Serves 2

Written by Daniela Barbaglia

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