According to WebMD, cracking knuckles does not cause arthritis. Cracking or popping knuckles is not known to deliver any benefits or cause any harm as long as there is no pain experienced from doing it.
According to WebMD, the cracking sound from joints can be caused from a negative pressure temporarily pulling nitrogen gas into a joint. There may be underlying problems with joint structures, such as loose cartilage or damaged ligaments, when the cracking causes pain.
According to Mayo Clinic, the most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis, is associated with damage to joint cartilage resulting from normal wear and tear. Arthritis may be brought on faster by an infection or joint injury.