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Neck Cracking: The Effects and Benefits According to Chiropractors

When looking for chiropractic care, expect that therapists aim to give patients a worthwhile and relaxing experience. Some common reasons people consider chiropractors are because they feel uncomfortable pain in the neck, back, and shoulders. However, there are still people who doubt and hesitate about the idea of neck cracking, especially after some controversial issues. Since there are several confusion and myths on the safety of neck cracking, many patients are not open to doing this process and would always think about why it needs to be done in the first place?

For some clients, the thought of cracking their necks is a daunting experience. It could be due to what they have seen, mostly on television or in movies. But the fact is, chiropractors only ‘cracked’ the patient’s neck to manipulate the cervical joints. The ‘cracking’ or ‘popping’ sounds are due to the swift motion applied to loosen the ligaments and joints in the area. The sound you hear is not coming from the neck alone, but it can be in other joints, including the lower back and hips. Popping or cracking joints are mainly done in fingers, toes, ankles, and knuckles.

Why do joints have a ‘pop’ sound when chiropractors ‘crack’ them?

Cracking joints is a habit developed by some people, even when they are still young. They tend to pop or crack their fingers, elbows, knees, and toes. But it is not recommendable to crack your own neck when you are feeling pain and discomfort. There are vital nerves and blood vessels in the area which can get injured and damaged when certain precautions are not observed. Chiropractors will examine the source of the issue or pain, then help the patient look for relief through gentle manipulation or the body’s natural movements. But have you ever thought about why there’s a popping or cracking sound when the manipulation of joints begins? 

Here are the usual reasons for the sounds.

  • Arthritis. When someone has arthritis, the cartilage in the joints loses its smoothness. Also, the surfaces of the joints become rougher due to the condition, thus giving that popping or cracking sound when moved.
  • Gas in the joints. The person’s joints have a little amount of fluid that serves as a lubricant between the tissues and bones. It has oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen. The paired joints or facet in someone’s neck, like air and fluids, can collect between these joints creating some bubbles. When a chiropractor ‘crack’ the neck of their patient, the movement can cause the air bubbles to crack and produce the popping sounds.
  • Movements. Your overall movements or activities can affect every part of your body, including ligaments and tendons. If there is an area that is slightly out of place, it will make popping noises when they are moved back into their proper position or being manipulated. The same thing when the ligaments tighten whenever the joints move, thus, the cracking sound. You may hear the sound when you move the elbow, knee, or ankle.

Chiropractors may utilize different types of adjustment and manipulation techniques to relieve pain, discomfort, and other issues of their patients. Cracking of the neck is one of the cervical manipulations they use but might not be suggested for all patients, especially those with severe conditions. Your chiropractor will assess your situation first before applying the techniques suited for you and help you out with the pain.

Neck cracking benefits

Although it may seem dangerous, there are several benefits of having your joints popped or cracked, including the neck. Those who have suffered from neck pain and had their necks cracked by chiropractors will say to you about the great feeling that comes after the process. Some of these benefits include the following:

  • Realignment of misaligned joints
  • Soreness relief
  • Pain relief
  • Lightness due to release of pressure in the area
  • Release of endorphins

Some clients also claim to experience immediate relief soon after hearing the sound from their joint or cavitation. But sometimes, it could only be a placebo effect. Despite these advantages, patients are constantly reminded to see a professional and never consider ‘neck cracking’ on their own. There is a specific process in doing the technique, and only a real professional can initiate it. The neck has veins and nerves, which might become damaged when you manipulated it the wrong way.

How to reduce the risk of injury in neck cracking

Neck popping and cracking may provide relief from pressure and pain, but some people try to do it incorrectly and repetitively. Doing this can cause potential issues and further damages in the future. Neck manipulations should be done by licensed professionals who have extensive knowledge of the musculoskeletal system and the human body. Chiropractors also undergo years of studies. They need to pass certain examinations to get a license, which ensures that they are a true expert in handling several human bodies' conditions.

A chiropractor’s primary obligation is to make sure that the muscles and bones of the body are well-balanced and aligned. When the joints are out of place, they can manipulate the body manually to put it back in its rightful place.

Chiropractic care is non-surgical and not dependent medically. As much as possible, chiropractic doctors will provide non-invasive treatments to relieve discomfort and pain in their clients.

During chiropractor visits, clients will receive adjustments and manipulations to correct the joints and spine's imbalance and misalignment. Additionally, they may also make a lifestyle change to avoid pain troubles in the future. Clients will learn exercises that they can perform to continue treatment even after the provided sessions. There are certain discussions on following a proper diet plan, exercise plan, and idea weight to help patients recover quickly and avoid potential health issues in the future.

Conclusion

Seeking help from a chiropractor for the first time can make individuals feel anxious, especially if they thought about neck-cracking manipulation. It is not always the situation. Professional chiropractic doctors will complete a thorough diagnosis first, check the patient’s medical history, request laboratory exams if needed, and ask for other relatable information about their health. All these are done to prepare the right plan for the treatment applicable to the patient.

Apart from visiting chiropractors to conduct neck and spinal adjustments, these professionals may also give at-home treatment plans and exercises to help clients handle discomfort and pain at home. Despite how good it may feel to get your neck ‘popped’ or ‘cracked,’ remember that it is most safe if a trained expert will do it for you. The joints will not only be adjusted and realigned, but you will also feel the reduced pain, soreness, and swelling in the affected area. Most importantly, you can rest easy knowing that the adjustments or manipulations will not cause any trouble or damage to your veins and nerves in the neck area.

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