It is very common, even nature of habit, for one to crack their neck, knuckles, back, etc. While this may be to cause relief or loosen up some tense areas, many people wonder if this is problematic or if it’s helpful. The answer can vary based on some other factors involved. Let’s consider some of the factors in this article.
Cracking your neck gently or occasionally won’t cause you any harm. However, if it is done too frequently, or too forcefully it can actually cause more pain or discomfort than you felt before you cracked your neck or it can lead to more serious damage down the road.
What Makes the Neck “Pop?”
When a joint in the body creates a cracking, popping, or grinding sound or sensation, this is known as crepitus. It is believed that crepitus is caused when the capsules around your joint are being stretched. These capsules contain fluid, called synovial fluid, and stretching them allows the fluid to put less pressure on the joint, turning this fluid into a gas bubble of nitrogen. When the fluid becomes gas, it makes a popping noise and releases pressure from the joints.
Sometimes the cracking of joints may be unintentional. When a joint moves, it also affects the tendons and ligaments. If a tendon moves slightly out of place, it can make a snapping noise when it returns to its original position or as bones move around or over each other. This can occur because our muscles and tissues are too tight or because they become less elastic as we age.
Dangers of Cracking Your Own Neck
Although you might be accustomed to, or even crave the relief felt when cracking your own neck it’s important to consider the risk with doing it without professional supervisions or consultations.
Some of the risks include:
- Pinched nerves in your neck
- Pinching a nerve can be extremely painful and make it difficult or impossible to move your neck.
- Strained muscles around your joints and the joints themselves.
- Loosened ligament support
- This can lead to instability in the neck area and might cause more damage in the long run.
- Developed chance of osteoarthritis
- Increased possibility of blood clots
Benefits of Cracking The Neck
There are many reasons why people regularly see their chiropractors to get adjustments, that include having their necks cracked.
These reasons include:
- Relief from soreness or pain
- Realignment of misaligned joints
- Feeling of lightness due to the release of pressure in the neck area
- Release of endorphins in the joints to help the body to manage pain and give a feeling of satisfaction and pleasure
- Overall positive mental effect, that’s because many people associate cracking sounds with the release of pressure and successful adjustment of a joint
When Neck Cracking Should be a Concern
As we learned in this article, neck cracking can be normal and harmless if not done too forcefully or frequent. However, there are signs to help indicate when neck cracking or the constant need to do so may need professional treatment.
If the popping sound is in addition to these symptoms or factors:
- Pairs with pain or swelling
- Occurs after an accident, injury or surgery
- Repeats every time you move a certain way
- Initiates a feeling of dizziness or nausea