Many dancers ask whether cracking joints is safe. Many parents hate hearing their children crack almost every joint in their body, but often have no idea why they detest it so much! It is very important to avoid self manipulation for a variety of reasons. This is especially true if you crack the same joint all the time, and even more important if the joint cracks on its own accord! I hope the following videos and points will help clarify this for you!
The first video is an MRI of a finger joint (IP joint) being manipulated. Note the sudden calibration between the outside of the joint and the inside of the joint when the manic is performed. While this may seem innocent enough, the frequent adjustment of a joint leads to increased laxity of the ligaments, leading to more frequent manipulation. While cracking joints does not directly lead to increased rates of Arthritis, unstable joints get more arthritic due to the cartilaginous surfaces undergoing more wear from excessive movement.