Have you stayed away from chiropractors because you are terrified that they will crack your neck or spine? If you said yes, you are not alone. That procedure strikes fear in the minds of most people and many will just stay away from chiropractors as a result. But is their fear based on scientific knowledge or just what they have seen on TV when someone is killed by getting their neck snapped?
The truth of the matter is that nothing is being broken or damaged when the chiropractor performs procedures that result in a cracking sound. So what is really happening? When you stretch a joint such as in the spine, a vacuum is created in the joint and pressure is released much like what happens when you release a suction cup. That is all that cracking, popping or snapping is.
The same thing is happening when someone cracks their knuckles - they are just creating little air pockets inside the joint that consist partially of nitrogen. Once they have cracked the knuckle, the air builds up again after about 20 minutes and they can again create the sound. The question is, does cracking your knuckles cause damage to your joints? This is a very common question and the answer is definitely yes. This is because damage can occur over time especially if the person habitually cracks their knuckles several times a day. Micro trauma can occur when you extend a joint beyond where it is supposed to go too many times.
Chiropractors only crack joints for very specific reasons. They are looking for joints that are not moving in a normal fashion and extend them to restore movement. Once it is back to it's normal function they will stop adjusting it. Some people are not even capable of creating the cracking sound because their joints are so tight, while others can pop their joints at will because their joints are so loose.
Here is an excellent video that uses props to explain what is happening when your practitioner adjusts your spine and creates a cracking sound. There is nothing to fear, although it still brings to mind those people losing their lives on TV as a result of a twist to the neck.
Thanks to Dr. Lee Pierce of the Pierce Family Chiropractic Wellness Center 17024 Magnolia St. Fountain Valley CA 92708