How to Crack the Elbow: 8 Steps (with Pictures)

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How to Crack the Elbow: 8 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Crack the Elbow: 8 Steps (with Pictures)

In everyday life, many people have the habit of cracking the elbow (and various other joints in the body) when they feel some kind of tension in the area. On the other hand, when there is a sharp pain in the region, no snapping technique works. On the contrary: they can even worsen the situation, causing conditions such as bursitis, tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) or even tendon fractures. In these latter cases, you'd better go to the emergency room as soon as possible. Otherwise, read the tips below and learn how to crack your joints!


Method 1 of 2: Snapping and Realigning the Elbow

Crack Your Elbow Step 1

Step 1. Extend your arm to flex your triceps and snap your elbow

To flex your triceps, you must extend your arm until the muscle is bulged and detached from the rest of the skin. This movement creates pressure on the elbow, which bursts the small air bubbles that are in the synovial fluid in the joint. That's why you'll hear the distinctive popping noise.

  • The triceps are at the back of each arm, opposite the biceps.
  • Stop flexing your triceps if you experience severe pain, as it may indicate that the problem is more serious and needs medical attention.
Crack Your Elbow Step 2

Step 2. Relax and flex your triceps until it snaps back into place

Use the triceps flexion technique from the previous step to realign the dislocated elbow. If you've suffered a fracture during a football match, for example, you can try to correct your elbow position before you even go to the emergency room. If that doesn't work on the first try, relax your triceps and flex your arm slightly.

  • Next, flex your triceps one more time. Continue alternating between relaxing and flexing the muscle until you feel your elbow return to its normal position.
  • When you flex and relax your arm, the bones in your elbow will eventually rub slightly.
Crack Your Elbow Step 3

Step 3. Stop snapping the elbow if the joint does not return to normal

If you try to extend and relax your elbow five or six times, but the joint doesn't come back to its original place, don't press on. At this point, your techniques can end up making the situation worse and even causing severe pain in the nerve endings.

In that case, go to the emergency room immediately

Method 2 of 2: Seeking Medical Treatment

Crack Your Elbow Step 4

Step 1. See a doctor if you are unable to realign your elbow

Depending on the situation, you may not know if your elbow is dislocated or broken. If the techniques of the previous method do not work, go to the emergency room or consult a doctor directly - even more so if the area continues to swell.

Go straight to the emergency room if you experience severe pain in your elbow, are unable to bend your arm, or have a numb hand

Crack Your Elbow Step 5

Step 2. See a doctor if your elbow is swollen or painful

If you are in the habit of cracking your elbow several times a day (whether by accident or on purpose), this can eventually lead to what is called bursitis. This condition occurs when the pockets of fluid in the elbow begin to swell from overuse or agitation. Watch for this swelling and pain.

If you hear a snap in the elbow area but don't know what caused it, it could be a tear in a ligament or tendon, or even a fracture or dislocation in the bone

Crack Your Elbow Step 6

Step 3. Describe the symptoms and level of pain to the doctor

Your doctor will want to know how long you have had elbow pain and how bad it is. Also make it clear if the region only hurts when you use it or even when you are resting. If you can't crack your elbow but make repetitive arm movements throughout the day, it's probably a case of tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis).

If the pain has been getting worse for some time, it is likely caused by repetitive and stressful activities: spending too much time on the computer, lifting heavy loads in the gym, playing certain sports to exhaustion, and so on

Crack Your Elbow Step 7

Step 4. Do whatever tests the doctor orders if he thinks your elbow is broken

If you have severe pain and can't even bend your arm or use your hand, it could be that your elbow is dislocated or your entire arm is broken. In that case, the doctor will order an X-ray or an MRI to find out more.

Exams such as X-ray and MRI take less than 15 minutes and do not cause any kind of pain

Crack Your Elbow Step 8

Step 5. Talk to your doctor about treatment options

If your elbow isn't broken, you shouldn't have to have any surgery or stay in the hospital. The doctor will find out if it is a case of tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), bursitis, tear, or strain. Then he will recommend treatments with thermal bags or even more radical alternatives.

In general, your doctor will likely recommend that you stop making short, repetitive movements with your elbow. This can help to contain much of the problem


  • Cracking the elbow from time to time to relieve tension does not cause problems. On the other hand, if you are used to doing this more than once or twice a day, the situation can get complicated.
  • If you are in the habit of cracking your elbow several times a day to relieve some discomfort, it is best for a doctor to find out if there is a specific condition that causes this problem.
  • If one or two of your elbows often hurt, even if you haven't had any injuries recently and you don't have repetitive movements, it could be something like rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.

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