Neck Cracking: The Effects and Benefits According to Chiropractors

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Neck Cracking Effects and Benefits

When going out for a chiropractic session, therapists aim to provide clients with a relaxing and worthwhile experience. Some of the usual reasons why people seek out practitioners are because they feel some acute neck pain, pain in the shoulders, or back pain. However, when it comes to neck cracking, a lot of people hesitate and are beset by the controversial issues surrounding it. Because there are so many myths and confusion about the safety of neck cracking, a lot of patients are not open to this practice and would always wonder why it needs to be done? 

For some people, the thought of having their “neck” cracked is a daunting experience. This could be due to what they’ve seen in movies or television shows. However, when chiropractors “cracks” the neck of their patient, they are only manipulating cervical joints. The “popping” or “cracking” sounds are only because there is a quick motion applied to loosen the joints and ligaments in the area. The sound is not just in the neck, but it can be in other joints including the hips and the lower back. Cracking or popping joints are also often done in ankles, toes, fingers, and knuckles.   

Why Do Joints Have Pop When Chiropractors “Crack” Them?

Cracking one’s joints is a typical habit developed by some people while they are young. People tend to crack or pop their fingers, toes, elbows, and knees. But it is not advisable to crack your own neck when you are feeling discomfort and pain. There are essential blood vessels and nerves in the area which can get damaged when the precautions are not observed. Chiropractors will first look into the source of the pain or problem, then help the patient find relief through the body’s natural movements and gentle manipulation.  But have you ever wondered why there is a cracking or popping sound when these joints are manipulated? Here are the common reasons for the sounds. 

Arthritis – when a person is affected by arthritis, the cartilage in the joints loses its smoothness. The surfaces of the joints become rougher because of the illness, thus when they give that cracking or popping sound when moved.  

Gas in the joints – the joints have a small amount of fluid that works as a lubricant between the bones and the tissues. It has nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. The facet or paired joints in a person’s neck also contain such fluids and air can collect between these joints forming some bubbles. When chiropractors “crack” their patient’s necks, the movement causes the air bubbles to pop and produce the popping or cracking sounds.   

Movements – a person’s everyday movements affect every part of the body including tendons and ligaments. If there is a part that is slightly out of place, it will create cracking noises when they are manipulated or moved back into their rightful place. Likewise, the ligaments can tighten when the joints move, thus, the popping sound. You may notice this sound when you move the knee, elbow, or ankle.

Chiropractors may use different types of manipulations and adjustment techniques to relieve discomfort, pain, and other issues of their patients. Neck cracking is just one of the cervical manipulations that they use, but might not be recommended for all patients. Your practitioner will make an assessment of your condition first before applying any techniques to help you out. 

Benefits that Comes with Neck Cracking

Although it may seem daunting, there are plenty of benefits of having joints cracked or popped – including the neck. Those who have experienced neck pain and had their necks cracked by professional chiropractors will tell you the great feeling that comes after the session. Some of these advantages include the following:

Pain relief

Soreness relief

Realignment of misaligned joints

Lightness due to release of pressure in the area

Release of endorphins

Some patients also claim to experience instant relief soon after hearing the cavitation or the joint. But this could only be some placebo effect. And despite these benefits, everyone is reminded to always consult with a professional and never to initiate “neck cracking” on their own. The neck has nerves and veins which might become damaged when manipulations are not done properly.    

Reducing Risk of Injury In Neck Cracking

Neck cracking and popping may provide relief from pain and pressure, but some people try to do it repetitively and incorrectly. Doing this can lead to damage and potential issues in the future. Neck manipulations especially when there is discomfort should be handled by licensed professionals with extensive knowledge of the human body and the musculoskeletal system. Chiropractors undergo years of studies and pass licensure examinations to ensure that they are experts in handling various conditions of the human body.

A chiropractor’s major responsibility is to ensure that the bones and the muscles of the body are aligned and well-balanced. When the joints are out of place, they will manually manipulate the body to put it back in place.  

Chiropractic practice is not dependent medically and is non-surgical. As much as possible, chiropractors will employ non-invasive treatments to help relieve pain and discomfort in their patients. 

During visits to the chiropractor, patients will receive manipulations and adjustments to correct misalignment or imbalance of the spine and joints. Additionally, their practitioner may also give them advice on making lifestyle changes to prevent pain issues in the future. Patients will be taught home exercises that they can execute to continue treatment even after the sessions. There may also be discussions on following a diet plan, ideal weight, and exercise plan that will help patients recover faster and prevent potential issues in the future.


Visiting a chiropractor for the first time can make some people anxious especially if they expect some neck-cracking manipulation to happen. This is not always the case. Professional chiropractors will conduct a thorough diagnosis, check the person’s medical history, request for laboratory examinations if needed and ask for other relevant information regarding their health. All these are needed to prepare the right treatment plan for their case and condition.  

Apart from regular visits to conduct spinal and neck adjustments, chiropractors may also provide at-home exercise and treatment plans to help patients handle pain and discomfort at home. Despite how good it may feel to have your neck “cracked” or “popped,” keep in mind that it is most safe if a trained professional will do it for you. The joints will not only be realigned and adjusted, but you will also experience reduced pain, swelling, and soreness in the area. More importantly, you can rest easy that the manipulations will not cause damage to your nerves or veins in the neck area.   

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