Merolla Chiropractic

100 Bedford Street
New Bedford, MA 02740


Once in a while the following happens to me in my office.  I am about to give someone their first chiropractic adjustment.  Often they have severe back pain.  You may know what I am talking about.  You can barely sit due to pain, are unable to sleep, and when you are awake pace about the room.  By the time I’m ready to treat, I have been with the patient for a while.  They have told me about their problem, imaging has been looked at, and an examination has been performed.  I have explained everything going on with them including how I can help, the relief they might expect to feel, and the remarkable safety of chiropractic.  And on the verge of this great moment in healthcare delivery, the patient stops the presses with a simple question: 

Is it bad to crack my knuckles?

Now, you might think that such a question is coming right out of left field.  After all, if your back was killing you, why start talking about your hands.  But over the years, I have come to realize that this is code.  It is the conscious or unconscious thought of someone thinking; what are the long term effects of chiropractic treatment.  Because everyone has heard that cracking your knuckles causes arthritis.  And therefore having the chiropractor “crack” your spine by simple extension cannot be good.

Well then, how did this individual come to lie upon my table?  The answer is obvious.  These are the actions of a desperate person.  By the time they get to my office, they have often been to the medical doctor, had the x-rays taken, seen the specialist, taken the medication, done the home stretches, or been professionally stretched at physical therapy.  And so far nothing has worked or worked well enough.  The chiropractor is stop number 3-4 on their quest for a better back.   And at this point, they’ll suffer anything for relief.  It’s true.  I have even had someone tell me, with their face set grim and eyes closed, to “do what you gotta do”.

Which is actually to deliver a chiropractic adjustment, which is extremely safe, feels great, is gentle, and yes at times can be a little noisy. 

But when you are at the chiropractor for the first time in your life for a problem no one seems to be able to get a handle on, you don’t know that.  Which brings us back to the safety of knuckle cracking.  There have been at least 5 studies trying to determine if knuckle cracking leads to arthritis.  And the results: it doesn’t.  The latest study was published in March 2011 Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine and entitled “Knuckle cracking and hand osteoarthritis”.  The conclusion was that habitual knuckle cracking did not increase osteoarthritis.  What we should really be looking at now is the performance enhancing properties of knuckle cracking.  Just ask any concert pianist! 

And by the way, the doubting Thomas that usually enters the clinic out of desperation often becomes one of the most satisfied of clients.  They really had nowhere to go but up!