Have you ever turned your head and heard your neck crack? That’s called “crepitus” which applies to any snap, crackle, pop of the joints.
But let’s talk about the neck cracking.
Imagine those joints in the back of the neck. They’re called facet joints and if you feel the back of your neck, you can feel the knobby texture. Inside these joints is synovial fluid which keeps your joints lubricated. Smooth cartilage and an intervertebral disc separate each one.
Here’s Why You Hear Your Neck Crack
This applies to your knees, ankles, and other joints too by the way. Essentially, there are three main reasons why you hear these sounds.
1- Pressure Changes – Gas bubbles within the synovial fluid in your joints make a popping noise when they explode. You might also feel a sense of relief and a greater range of motion when this happens. This is normal.
2- Ligament or tendons moving – These are attached to bones and they move around the bone in your body. Sometimes they make a sound as they move.
3- Grinding– Osteoarthritis is caused by the loss of cartilage in the neck and other parts of the body. As you age, losing this cartilage is common and can lead to the bone grinding on bone. Ouch! That is usually painful.
Is it Safe to Crack Your Neck?
When everyday activities like driving or stretching cause your neck to crack, that’s fine. But you don’t want to seek out opportunities to crack your neck on your own. The reason is that your neck houses plenty of blood vessels and nerves. Improper or forceful neck cracking can lead to pinched nerves or even punctured blood vessels both of which are problems and can lead to more pain. Your chiropractor can help you find relief.
When Does it Make Sense to See a Chiropractor?
Regular chiropractic care boosts your immune system and can even reduce your stress. What’s “regular?” We interpret it as at least once a month. That way, your body stays in alignment.
A chiropractor is trained in joint manipulation to help your spine (including your neck) stay flexible which is important for your overall health and the way you feel. For most people, the occasional neck crack is perfectly normal. Neck “crepitus” is nothing to worry about.
However, if you’re in pain, then you definitely want to seek medical treatment and if you feel like you’re constantly trying to crack your neck to find relief or if you have any kind of unusual swelling, then you’ll want to make an appointment right away.