Lots of people crack their own neck or back – either for relief, out of habit or it just happens with very little effort. Is there anything wrong with cracking your own neck? What can a chiropractor do that you can’t?
Your spine is one of the most important things in the body, providing structure as well as free and flexible movement, making spinal health very important. The spine is made up of 24 bones called vertebrae. Between each vertebrae is a disc which absorbs all the forces travelling through your spine on a daily basis and prevents the vertebrae from rubbing together. The vertebrae are also connected through various joints. If these joints become restricted in movement, it can cause pain or discomfort and you may feel the need to crack your own spine.
There are a number of ways in which the spine may become restricted in movement, but most commonly we see that people with desk jobs and occupations which require awkward or sustained positions display poor posture and have an increased incidence of spinal pain. Poor posture is often attributed to a muscular imbalance in which tight muscles are opposing weak muscles. When this happens, it disrupts the natural curve of the spine and can cause joints to become restricted.
The correct term for that “crack” that you hear is a cavitation. While you may think hearing that crack will bring you sweet pain relief, the fact is that it’s not crucial to improving your pain and symptoms. So what is that sound? Gas bubbles build up in the fluid between joints which can contribute to the restriction of that joint. The popping sound you hear is the release of that gas build up due to the sudden movement of the joint. This is similar to when you open a bottle of soft drink – before the seal is broken, the bottle is hard and full of gas but as soon as you unscrew the lid you hear the gas escaping the bottle. However, it is not necessary to hear that pop to increase the range of motion in that joint.
If you are feeling pain or discomfort in your spine, it is likely that you have restricted movement in one of the joints and when you crack yourself you may experience temporary relief. This is because when you do crack yourself, there is a release of endorphins which provide temporary relief. However, you are likely cracking the joints above and below the area that is actually causing you pain. These joints above and below already have increased movement to compensate for the restricted joint. By cracking them yourself over and over trying to relieve any pain or discomfort, you may be cause them to become HYPERMOBILE (too much movement).
Has anyone ever told you that cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis? Research has shown that this is not a risk associated with self-adjusting. However, repetitively adjusting yourself can cause stretching of soft tissues (such as ligaments) around the joint causing it to have TOO MUCH movement. This can cause problems with instability later down the track. The other problem is that you are not targeting the target area! So, it’s unlikely that you will experience long-term pain relief. Also, you're not correcting the cause of the problem only creating temporary relief. Your local chiropractor is trained in finding the cause of you needing to crack yourself.
If you are experiencing relentless spinal pain or discomfort, you may benefit from a chiropractic appointment. Your chiropractor can screen your spine for any restrictions or potential sources of pain and target the problem joint(s). They may also give you stretches and strengthening exercises to assist in improving musculature imbalances to target poor posture.
At Lakeside Chiropractic our chiropractors are well trained at identifying and targeting problem joints which may be causing you pain and discomfort. If you would like to see one of our chiros or if you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call on (08) 9300 0095 or head to our website for more information and booking at www.lakesidechiro.com.au. We are based in Joondalup, Central walk with easy parking.Schedule an Appointment