However, I strongly believe there are also physical aspects with joint cracking. As a long time joint cracker you cannot always quit joint cracking like you quit sucking your thumb or smoking. Of course I am very happy it worked for you like that!
I am very interested in those underlying issues you name. A few points to ponder about:
Some report their diet seems to have an influence on joint cracking desire.
Smoking makes those that are addicted to it feel good. They enjoy the experience. Joint crackers with physical implications do not crack to feel good, they crack to not feel bad, to mobilize their joints, etc. They feel physical pain when not cracking. Because of the negative liagment-loop the more you crack, the more you want to crack. The pain only goes away for a little while, it comes back in quicker and quicker cycles the more you crack. The converse arguments holds: Exercise strengthening your muscles / tendons / liagments does help stabilize joints and thus reduce joint pressure pains.
Being submersed in warmth seems to reduce joint pressure.
The joint must not crack on normal daily movements you cannot possibly prevent.
The joint only cracks with a special "move" or "stretch" you can make yourself aware of.E.g. my "ankles" do not seem to fit into this pattern. Minimal, normal unconscious movements suffice, I am often surprised when they pop. Unless I put my feet in casts, it will be pretty much impossible to avoid these unintended "surprise" cracks. As long as the joint cracking related physical properties of my ankles are not treated, reversed or undone, I thus doubt I'll ever be able to minimize their cracking to a level where I'm not bothered by them.
All in all, does this sound like an ordinary "habit" in all cases? I think not. Hence this forum and sub-section.
Of course joint popping can be a simple habit, too. Most people can pick up knuckle cracking and more if they really want to and are bored or whatever. Not everyone needs to use the "advanced" sections.
The term "cooperative medicine" was coined by the Mayo clinic
Mayo Clinic is based on the idea of "cooperative medicine"; teams of experts combine their skills and experience to help solve people's medical problems. In simple terms, Mayo believes that two heads are better than one, and five are even better.
Once, I did such a whole system check including all the "usual" tests like x-ray, blood, urine, ultrasonic and psychological tests.
Unfortunately, I didn't do this test at the Mayo clinic itself but at a more local institution claiming to work in a similar fashion.
Next to the expected slight joint hyper-mobility, I was diagnosed as having a psychosomatic sickness. This is the usual reply when the sum of doctors does not find anything physically wrong with you. :roll:
At that time I wasn't happy with that diagnosis at all. However, by now I believe there might be at least some truth to it.
Right now the best way for successful diagnosis seems to be a broad test like this. This makes sense because we don't yet fully understand what to look for. Unfortunately, all broad tests share a lack of depth. The precise diagnosis probably requires a look much too deep to be within the scope of a broad test.
Which means there needs to be more definitive and accurate tests. However this isn't going to happen soon as people don't think it is an issue.