Chiropractic care involves manually manipulating the joints of the spine, causing a popping or cracking sound and feeling. When done properly by a qualified chiropractor, ‘back cracking,’ as it’s commonly called, can bring immediate relief to the patient.
But what exactly happens when a chiropractor cracks your back? And can you get the same benefits by doing it yourself?
What Happens When a Chiropractor Cracks Your back
Let’s look at why a chiropractor would crack a patient’s back in the first place. There are two reasons for spinal manipulation:
- Popping misaligned bones back into position: If a bone is slightly out of place, manipulation is used to pop it back into its correct position.
- Releasing the stiffness of a restricted joint: Healthy joints should rotate easily and movement should be pain-free. Stiff joints are unable to rotate as they should and may be sore and inflamed. If there is not an alignment issue, an x-ray would be inconclusive, yet the stiffness and pain can’t be ignored. A Chiropractor will evaluate the joint, feel for proper movement, and make slight adjustments to loosen the stiffness.
Both approaches involve quick, shallow thrusts to the affected joint. If you seek care from a chiropractor for back or neck pain, the chiropractor’s treatment will likely involve a spinal adjustment. In other words, the chiropractor might “crack your back.”
Though it might sound frightening, the sound you hear is not the sound of bones breaking or crunching against one another. Rather, the manipulation of the joint releases tiny gas bubbles, causing an audible cracking sound much like the sound you hear when you crack your knuckles.
Other Treatment Options for Back and Neck Pain
Many patients turn to chiropractic care after becoming frustrated with other approaches. Some have suffered through back and neck pain for years, undergoing round after round of ineffective treatments. Some of the more common approaches to treating back and neck pain include:
- Exercise and stretching
- Massage and other muscle tissue treatments
- Painkillers and muscle relaxers
Each of the above may bring partial or temporary relief to back pain, but they are often ineffective and can even be risky. For example, powerful painkillers have dangerous side effects. They could interact with other medications or lead to addiction. And surgery has its own set of risks.
When seeking medical care for back or neck pain, consider adding chiropractic care to your treatment plan. It’s a non-invasive option without the risks of prescription drugs or surgery, and it is safe and highly effective. Not only is chiropractic treatment an effective way to relieve back and neck pain, but it also addresses the source of the pain — the joint itself.
Should You Crack Your Own Back?
Many people attempt to crack their backs. They may be accustomed to cracking their knuckles, or they may get an initial sense of satisfaction when cracking the neck or back. Some may even experience some pain relief at first. This is because cracking your neck releases endorphins which deliver a temporary pain-relieving effect and provide a feeling of pleasure. Also, some people associate the popping sound with pressure release leading to a placebo effect.
However, despite the satisfaction that cracking your own back or neck brings, doing so is extremely dangerous. Not only is it a haphazard approach that offers, at best, a fleeting moment of relief, but the back and neck are delicate and prone to damage. Some of the negative outcomes of cracking your own back or neck include:
- Pinched nerves
- Punctured blood vessels
- Blood clotting
- Muscle strain
- Perpetual instability of the ligaments / stretched ligaments, putting you at risk of developing osteoarthritis in the joint
When done under a chiropractor’s care, spinal adjustments are a safe and effective treatment for back or neck pain associated with stiff joints and misalignment. Not only might you feel as if a bone snapped back into its proper place, allowing you once again to move freely, but spinal manipulation can also bring immediate pain relief.
Getting your back cracked by a chiropractor could provide the lasting relief you’ve been looking for. Rather than spending months (or years) undergoing ineffective treatment, schedule a consultation with a chiropractor to find out if your condition could benefit from chiropractic care.