Taking a moment to crack your joints is a common practice. Many people partake in it – from cracking their knuckles, toes, back, and even neck. But the underlying question remains: is it safe?
Not everyone enjoys doing it, nor is it done for the same reasons. A few people might want to relieve pressure embedded near the shoulders because of stress. While for others, it has become part of their routine. There is no clear answer if there are severe consequences to cracking, but gently doing it on occasion will not cause too much damage. However, doing it incorrectly, too often, and forcefully might cause more pain and discomfort than you imagined.
What Happens When You Crack Your Neck?
At the moment, as you feel instant gratification, there is a lot that goes into the relief you’re experiencing. With each crack, the capsules located around your joint get stretched. Each one contains fluid, so when released, it puts less pressure on the joint.
As the pressure reduces, the fluids within the joints turn to gas, which makes the popping noise you hear. This medical term is boiling or cavitation – and it isn’t as harmful as it seems. The neck itself has several facet joints located on each side. A similar process applies when you crack it. As the fluid converts to gas, you will hear a crack accompanied by a release in pressure.
Benefits To Cracking Your Neck
A chiropractor in El Segundo may advise you to see a specialist instead of taking matters into your own hands, even if there are benefits to the practice. One study shows having your neck cracked by a professional can boost positivity. That may not come as a surprise, as people associate each sound with pure enjoyment.
The sound alone can make someone feel better without the successful adjustment of the joint. That is known as a “placebo effect.” Endorphins, produced by the pituitary gland, get released in the surrounding area of your neck joints. Patients experience a range of satisfaction just knowing that.
Is It Risky? If So, How?
Improperly cracking your neck or doing it too often can cause more damage than you might expect. In many cases, patients that do it too forcefully wound up pinching the nerves. It can be painful and could cause a stiff neck by straining the muscles around surrounding joints and the joints themselves. At Premiere Chiropractic, we don’t want you to go through that.
If you feel like you need to crack your neck a lot, it could be because of hypermobility. That means your joint exceeds a normal range of motion. So, each time you give up and crack your neck, the ligaments permanently stretch. We refer to this as perpetual instability. Unfortunately, this could put you at risk of developing osteoarthritis.
In severe cases, some people experience blood clotting. Outside of chiropractic care, you might have to seek emergency treatment. Your neck houses vessels and too many blockages can restrict blood flow to the brain.
Always Visit a Chiropractor
There is nothing wrong with cracking your neck outside of chiropractic care on occasion. In fact, you might not have to schedule a visit anytime soon. But we always recommend visiting a specialist if you experience constant pain or discomfort and:
- Notice unusual swelling from possible fluid buildup, injury, or infection
- Feel pain in your neck joint without noticeable cause
- See that the joints in your neck are becoming less mobile due to age or conditions like osteoarthritis
We work with you to prevent a buildup of pressure that makes you feel like you should crack your neck. Remember that the joint must be adjusted fully for maximum results. Call today to schedule an appointment!