Some people wonder what happens when a chiropractor "cracks" your neck? The term "cracking" when referring to cervical manipulation is the popping sound that occurs when quick motions loosen the joints and ligaments in the neck. Any joint can be "cracked," and it is common for people to also crack their knuckles, lower back, hips, ankles, and toes.
There are three key reasons why joints, and specifically the neck, will make a popping sound even when a chiropractor gently manipulates them:
- Escaping gas -- There is fluid in the joints that helps the bones and tissue to move together smoothly. This fluid contains oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. In the neck, there are paired joints, known as facet joints that run up and down each side. Each of these facet joints has a capsule around it that is filled with fluid and gas. When the joint capsule is stretched, gas is rapidly released in the form of bubbles and will make a popping or cracking sound.
- Movement -- When a joint moves, it also affects the tendons and ligaments, which are the fibers connecting the bones and muscles in the joint. If a tendon moves slightly out of place, it can make a snapping noise when it returns to its original position. Similarly, the ligaments can tighten when the joint is moved and can make a cracking sound. This will often occur in the ankle or knee.
- Arthritis -- If a joint is affected by arthritis, the cartilage can lose its smoothness. As the joint surface becomes rougher, it can make a noise when it moves.
A person is normally advised not to try and crack their neck themselves if they are experiencing pain or problems. This is because there are nerves and blood vessels that run through the neck that can be damaged. A chiropractor will examine their patient to find the root of their pain problem, and then work to restore normal body movement through gentle manipulation techniques.
For more information about what happens when a chiropractor manipulates your neck, call McKim Chiropractic and ask to speak to a specially trained neck chiropractor. The McKim Chiropractic offices are conveniently located in Boise, ID, Nampa, ID, and Caldwell, ID.