Hand OsteoarthritisClicking and popping can occur even in healthy joints, but sometimes it can indicate a hand or wrist problem that needs medical attention.

Is it harmful to “pop” or “crack” your knuckles?

We thought we’d just address this age old question before proceeding! This type of popping noise is caused by cavitation. Cavitation occurs when the joint is stretched, causing negative pressure in the joint which pulls nitrogen gas out of the joint fluid and causes a popping sound. There is no evidence that popping your knuckles causes arthritis.

When should you be concerned about clicking and popping?

If the clicking and popping is associated with pain, limiting your hand function, causing fingers or your wrist to get “stuck” or “lock up”; there may be a more serious underlying problem.
Trigger Finger Diagram

Common Problems Causing Clicking and Popping by Location


  • Trigger Finger is a condition in which the finger clicks or pops when you move it, and may even get stuck in a flexed or extended position. The click may actually be felt at the base of the finger in the palm, and there is usually some tenderness in that area.


  • TFCC Injuries often cause pain and clicking that occurs when rotating the wrist (as in turning a door knob. The clicking is felt on the small finger side of the wrist.
  • Scapholunate Ligament Injuries often cause pain more in the central and thumb side of the wrist, and you may experience more of a “clunking” sensation.
  • Hand and Wrist Arthritis (Osteoarthritis) often causes clicking or “grinding” sensations in multiple joints

Trigger Finger

Ready to confirm a diagnosis and fix the problem?

Our Board-Certified Orthopaedic Hand and Wrist Surgeons are here to help! They can often diagnose the problem in one visit, and get you started with a treatment plan ranging from simple splinting and hand therapy to injections or surgical options when needed.

Call today for a clinic or telehealth appointment! 854-423-4263         Book Now

*The content on this website is not a substitute for expert medical advice or diagnosis, and is for educational purposes only.