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Benefits and Risks of Neck Cracking

One of the most controversial topics that come to mind when talking about chiropractors is neck cracking. There are confusions and different myths regarding neck cracking, and many people wonder if it is safe and how this procedure can help the patient. Some of the most common reasons why people see a chiropractor are chronic neck pains, back or shoulder pains.

Neck cracking is a manipulation of cervical joints wherein you can hear a crack or a popping sound. It happens due to the quick motion applied to the cervical area to loosen the ligaments and joints of the neck. However, cracking is not exclusive to the person’s neck. Instead, it can be applied to other joints. Joint cracking has even become a universal symbol of someone is about to beat somebody up. It is a type of cracking in the lower back, hips, toes, and ankles, or the most common is the knuckles or fingers cracking.

The main reasons for the popping sound every time a person cracks their joints are:

Graphic Representation of a Joint Being Cracked with Sound Waves Illustrating the Popping Sound Phenomenon

Arthritis. It is a condition where the cartilage loses its smoothness. A person with arthritis has a rougher joint’s surface, resulting in a patient hearing some noise when moving.

Movement of the person. The joints move as the person moves. This movement affects the ligaments and tendons, which are the fibers in the body that connect the joints to the muscles. When the tendons move in the wrong direction or out of place, it causes a snapping noise when it returns to its original position. When you move, your ligaments can also tighten, causing cracking sounds. This noise is often heard in the knee or ankle.

Gas escaping a person’s joints. The joints contain fluids that work as a lubricant between the bones and tissues. This fluid contains oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen. It is common in the paired joints in the neck that move downward or upward each side. The air collected between the joints forms into bubbles that pop out by some specific movement creating a popping sound.

Joint cracking is typical, yet not everyone is advised to crack their necks themselves, especially if they feel pain or discomfort. It may damage some blood vessels and nerves. A chiropractor can assess if the neck pain or discomfort is due to some severe problems. Your chiropractor will help you relieve the pain through some adjustment and gentle manipulation.

Remember that neck cracking is a cervical manipulation or adjustment procedure that a chiropractor recommends as it is assumed to be the proper treatment. Still, chiropractic treatment is not always implemented, especially if there is no tension in the neck area.

Benefits of Neck Cracking

Person Experiencing Relief and Increased Mobility in Neck Area Through Cracking, Highlighting the Potential Benefits

Neck cracking offers a lot of benefits. Almost everyone suffered from neck pain at one point in their lives, so it is quite impossible for a person not to enjoy the benefits of neck cracking or neck-breaking, such as:

  • Relief from pain or soreness 
  • Relief from pain of misaligned joints
  • Relief from the release of endorphins
  • Feeling of lightness from the pressure released in the neck area
  • Instant relief from hearing the joint’s cavitation (might be a placebo effect)

These benefits are pretty amazing, but those suffering from neck problems should ask for professional help because too much neck cracking can be bad for health.

Risks of Neck Cracking

Graphic Illustration of the Potential Risks and Negative Effects of Neck Cracking, Including Injury and Discomfort

Although neck cracking can give a sense of relief for a moment, it does not mean that anyone can do it to themselves. It does not mean that you can always get the right joint to crack, and improper cracking of the neck might lead to further damage in the future. Remember that a cervical spine is an integral part of the body as a support. Its task is to support the entire weight of the head, which can weigh up to 13 pounds, and balance it above their shoulders. The act of balancing the head needs to be stably provided by the joints, ligaments, and discs in the neck. When a person does neck cracking without the supervision of an expert, it can loosen the support of the ligaments. It can be dangerous as it can lead to instability in the neck area, causing it to be damaged in the long run.

Another risk of neck cracking is the forced pinching of nerves that may result in difficulty or pain in moving due to too much force that strained the joints’ muscles. Hypermobility in the crevicular area can cause pain in the neck that needs neck cracking. When the joints are stretched or moved wider than usual, the ligaments become loose, making you feel the need to stretch it because of soreness or numbness. Looseness of the ligaments may also lead to osteoarthritis.

The main connection points of blood vessels are in the neck, so cracking it too hard may result in blood clotting and stroke because there is a tendency to block the flow of the blood to the brain. 

How Chiropractic Can Help Reduce the Risk of Neck Cracking

Chiropractor Demonstrating Safe Neck Adjustment Techniques to Minimize the Risks Associated with Neck Cracking

Chiropractors are licensed professionals who have extensive knowledge of the human body. They provide advice on how changing lifestyle can prevent misalignment of the spine and joints. You can avoid any postural problems if you follow a specific diet plan to lose weight or exercises that can make you healthy while not straining your muscles.

At-home exercises that a chiropractor recommends are a qualified treatment plan to help alleviate the patient’s pain. Some of the do-it-yourself treatment plans involve hot and cold compresses to reduce swelling. A reliable chiropractor will diagnose the patient thoroughly before giving any treatment, such as knowing their medical history, previous laboratory exam, and other relevant information that may affect their health.

Ensure that you have a trained professional to do the neck adjustment and realignment to relieve your pain and soreness in the neck. Chiropractic manipulation or adjustment is safe when done by medical professionals and specialists. So, if you are in doubt, make sure to verify or ask questions before submitting yourself to the treatment. It is crucial to have a high confidence level between the chiropractor and the patient.

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