Stretching and cracking our necks and back feels good when we feel tired or stressed after working hard or staying in one position for a long period. In some cases, we accidentally crack our necks and back when we do stretching and yoga exercises. In both situations, cracking our necks will not normally cause pain.

The cracking simply relieves the pressure in our joints created by tense muscles and too tight joints. Along with a good massage on our necks and back, the stretching pops this ball of pressure to relieve the muscle tension and joint stiffness. The same mechanism works when we crack our knuckles, wrists, or ankles.

The mechanism of cracking or popping our joints is a bit complex to begin with, especially if you don’t have a medical background. However, this article will explain the reasons and the cracking process in simple layman’s terms.

The Cracking Sound

If you look at the skeletal spine, in the neck, or the cervical spine, you will see the vertebrae have spurs or little wings that stick out. Sometimes when we have a neck problem, the two discs on each side of the problem area tend to rub, creating a popping or snapping noise.

Neck Crack Why Does my Neck Crack?

The cracking sound is produced by cavities of synovial fluid collapsing and releasing gas. There is rapid stretching of ligaments and adhesions between joints are broken. In a low pressure environment, some of the gases that are dissolved in the synovial fluid (which are naturally found in all bodily fluids) leave the solution creating a bubble or cavity, which rapidly collapses upon itself, resulting in a “clicking” sound.

Another reason for the cracking sound is the build up of calcium deposits. They become so large that they tend to rub against each other. They can develop internally, pressing against the throat, larynx, and other areas in the neck. This condition, however, is a bit rare, but it does happen.

Seeing an Expert

Many people go to a chiropractor to have their bones cracked and their muscles stretched to relieve muscle tension and joint stiffness caused by stress. These people swore by the effectiveness of chiropractic healing, but medical experts have always warned against medical treatments that were not approved by the governing bodies. Chiropractic is one of these non-approved medical practices.

Aside from that, self-healing is not advisable. Many people crack their necks and back when they already feel pain in that area. They may feel temporary relief from the pain, but the underlying cause of the pain will not go away. It is more important that any underlying medical cause must be addressed first rather than just simply relieving the symptoms.

One reliable way to treat the underlying cause of tension and stiffness in the neck area is to see a Physical Therapist right away. They employ exercises that can relieve tension and stiffness without causing harm to the neck area. They also use devices that can promote healing and relieve pain in the affected area.

Forced cracking

If you forcibly crack your neck and back frequently, especially as a means to relieve pressure and pain, can lead to loss of elasticity in the ligaments, which forces the muscles to work harder and tire easier. The joints are forced beyond the normal range of motion and the ligaments are stretched out over time. When the joints and ligaments do not return to normal, this develops into a condition known as hypermobility. Aside from that, there is also some research that indicates cracking joints can lead to the formation of arthritis.

Categories: Health

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