Why Do Chiropractors Crack Your Neck?

why do chiropractors pop your neck

When we use the term “neck cracking,” it means the production of the popping sound when quick chiropractic manipulations loosen the ligaments and joints of the neck.

Cracking is normal, and it can occur in any joint of the body. The usually cracked joints are ankles, hips, lower back, toes, and knuckles. Most often, people tend to do this by themselves, and they also seek the help of a health professional for treating different joint conditions.

In this post, we take a look at why chiropractors might do it, when you need a neck cracking, and what are the associated risks. So, the three main reasons why chiropractors do neck cracking include;

  • Joint mobility

There is a fluid present in the joints that supports the smooth gliding of bones and tissues. This liquid is called synovial fluid, and it comprises carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and oxygen.

The paired joints, also known as facet joints, are present in the neck; their function is to go up and down on each side. A capsule is present around each paired joint that contains gas and fluid. The rapid movements cause the stretching of these capsules and the quick release of the nitrogen gas as bubbles. The leakage of this gas produces a cracking or popping sound.

This process is also known as “cavitation” or “boiling.” Cavitation creates a reduction in pressure within the joint cavity and can help increase joint mobility.

  • Realignment of the tendon and ligament 

Tendons and ligaments are the fibers that connect the muscles and bones to the joints. These are affected by neck movements. Injury to the neck can cause the tendons to move from their position. The cracking sound is produced when the chiropractic manipulation restores the original position of the tendons.

Likewise, ligaments present in the knee or ankle can also be repositioned by chiropractic care.

  • Neck Arthritis

Arthritis is a diseased condition that causes the cartilage present in the joints to lose smoothness. This roughness of the joints produce the cracking sound when a person moves his neck. A sudden but controlled neck manipulation by a chiropractor can help increase flexibility and reduce friction – resulting in pain relief and reduced inflammation.

Possible risks

According to professional chiropractors, the method of neck cracking is a low-risk process, and it causes no or minimal damage to the joints. However, studies show that it may include mild to moderate adverse effects and risks such as mobility problems, blood clots, and osteoarthritis.

Take Away

Chiropractors widely use neck cracking for pain relief. Although a risk of blood vessel damage, rupture, or nerve injury is present, there is little chance that this will happen. The risk is lowest for individuals having strong bones, ligaments, and strong muscles. Neck manipulation can also cause the cracking, but this method has been proved to improve the position of the spine and release pain by massage or stretching the soft tissue.

Proponents of the neck cracking say chiropractic care is more effective than other treatments, such as the exercise of the spinal muscles. The body conditions that may improve by cervical neck manipulation include;

  • Soft tissue injury to the neck muscles, tendons, and ligaments
  • Neck pain
  • Neck arthritis
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Alignment of the joint

It is important to keep in mind that an experienced chiropractor should always do the manipulation.

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