If you’re a knuckle cracker or like to ‘pop’ your own neck or back, this information may be helpful. Many people do this regularly, even habitually as a type of natural pain relief with seemingly no perceived consequences…. At least at the time they do it. However when you crack your joints chronically, multiple times/day for years, it can contribute to degenerative joint disease. Patients who have done this habitually can also be more difficult to treat with chiropractic, requiring more visits and ongoing rehab. Keep reading this post to learn the real truth about why it’s better to let your doctors handle any ‘popping’ of your joints and what can happen if you keep doing it…..
When you move one of your joints past its physiological normal range of motion, it will often release a tiny nitrogen gas bubble and this is what creates the ‘popping’ sensation. When this occurs, the body releases a tiny amount of Beta-endorphins (the body’s natural morphine) and this is the reason why it gives temporary pain relief and can become a habit. The ligaments surrounding your joints keep a certain tautness so your joint will stop bending within a certain range. People who continually ‘pop’ their joints/neck or back are constantly stretching those ligaments past their norm, causing them to become looser than what they should. This can create imbalances (when one side is looser than the other) and also instability of the joint. A joint that’s unstable will accumulate wear and tear easier and faster, contributing to osteoarthritic damage.
This is the reason why, at Solutions, we generally discourage this habit. We are more concerned however, with the reason why the patient feels the need to crack their joints in the first place. Regarding the spine, most of the time it’s because they’re having pain and this gives them some temporary relief. Unfortunately, in most cases the joints that are cracking are not in the correct area and so the actual problem never gets corrected…. Until you go to the chiropractor.
When a disc problem occurs in the spine, the vertebrae become misaligned and stuck, limiting its motion so not to further pinch the nerve. The lack of mobility at that segment creates a compensation area of hypermobility usually right above it. When people crack their own neck or back, it’s this area they’re moving, not the spot where the pinched nerve and misalignment is. The only way to fix this problem is to move the correct spinal segment in a specific vector direction of movement; only a doctor of chiropractic can do this.
If you have a habit of popping your own neck or back, you’re most likely not going to harm yourself in the short term, however eventually it will catch up with you. The best way to break the habit is to come to Solutions for a spinal check up and adjustment. At Solutions in Tri Cities, TN, we practice the Gonstead method, widely considered the gold standard of chiropractic. Our doctors have over 50 years of combined experience and are highly skilled at helping most spinal problems. Make an appointment for a spinal evaluation here.