Neck cracking or spinal manipulation is one of the most controversial issues people talk about when it comes to chiropractic care. Let us take this opportunity to dispel a few myths and confusions surrounding neck cracking.
Chiropractors are usually sought out for chronic and acute neck and back pain, as well as shoulder pain. However, many people wonder whether chiropractors crack the necks of their patients safely.
How exactly do chiropractors crack necks? In neck cracking, a person hears a popping or crackling sound when they get their spine manipulated by a chiropractor. The cervical region’s ligaments and joints are loosened by applying a quick motion to this area. Cracking does not only occur in the neck.
In fact, any joint of the body can be ‘cracked’ – through a process called cavitation. It involves the release of trapped air bubbles (nitrogen gas) in the joints due to a sudden pressure change.
How Risky Is It To Crack Your Neck?
Performing a neck crack incorrectly or too often can harm your neck.
You can pinch your neck nerves if you crack your neck too forcefully. Pinching a nerve can cause severe pain, making moving your neck impossible. The muscles around your joints, as well as your joints themselves, can also be strained by too much neck clenching. It can be difficult to move your neck when your muscles are strained or your joints are stiff.
Hypermobility can lead to a feeling of needing to crack your neck a lot. Joints with a broader range of motion are more susceptible to hypermobility. You can permanently stretch your joints’ ligaments if you crack your neck a lot. This is known as perpetual instability. Consequently, you are at greater risk of developing osteoarthritis in the neck joints.
Many important blood vessels are located in your neck. You may puncture one of these blood vessels if you crack your neck too hard or too often. Rupture of any blood vessel can also block blood flow to your brain and may cause blood clotting – leading to stroke and death.
Can a Chiropractor Break Your Neck?
No. The neck is a body part surrounded by strong muscles and ligaments. There is no study citing that chiropractic manipulation has led to “neck-breaking” around the globe.
According to a 2010 study, 26 cases of suspected deaths after spinal manipulation were studied and found that most of the patients already had one or two episodes of stroke and most deaths occurred due to a tear or dissection of a vertebral artery.