Many people fear chiropractic care due to the “popping” and “cracking” sounds that emit during spinal and neck adjustments. In fact, many first time patients get scared when they hear such sounds for the first time. These sounds though are nothing different from the sounds of cracking the knuckles and fingers.

The cracking sound occurs when a phenomenon called “Cavitation” takes place. Cavitation is the process of a joint opening up. The joints are surrounded by a fluid known as synovial fluid which acts like a lubricant for the smooth movement of the joints. The workings of this fluid create Nitrogen, Oxygen and Carbon-di-Oxide as byproducts. These gasses form an air pocket within the joint and when the joint separates, these gasses come out with force creating the sound. In this way, these sounds are akin to the “pop” you hear when a soda bottle or Champagne bottle is opened.

Some common myths surrounding these cracking sounds are:

  • They cause Arthritis.
  • The sounds signify something (bones or joints) breaking.
  • They are not helpful in the adjustment process.
  • They cause pain.

Now take a look at the answers:

  • According to a study conducted over more than 50 elderly persons, it was proven that the habit of cracking the knuckles or the neck did not increase chances of Arthritis in any of them. Hence it can be proven that cracking sounds during chiropractic care has no chances of increasing the risks of Arthritis.
  • As mentioned earlier, any synovial joint has the tendency to crack and it does not matter whether there is a problem with the joint or not. If any of you have had a locked or stiff joint, you would have noticed a cracking sound when the joint sifts into place.
  • While a cracking sound is not mandatory for a successful chiropractic adjustment session, the sound signifies the related joint getting into proper alignment. The sound is almost always followed by relief for the patient.
  • Cavitations does not cause any more pain than cracking the fingers and knuckles do which is a common habit among many people.

In order to do a proper adjustment, the chiropractor has to detect subluxation in the spinal cord first and there are many techniques to do this. But the most common used method is contracting the spine followed by a painless thrust that causes the joints to open rapidly producing a loud pop. Thus the subluxation is also removed.

Some patients get so scared from the sound that they do not even come for the next treatment session. This makes it very important for you as a patient to understand the reasons clearly. After the joint is opened up, the synovial fluid re-lubricates the joint and normal function restores within a few minutes.

The number of visits to get complete relief depends on the severity of the problem you are having but even one chiropractic care session can provide tremendous relief. So now you know the real reason behind those cracking sounds. Just have faith in your chiropractor and know that the after-math will be worth hearing all the cracks and pops.