What Happens When a Chiropractor Cracks Your Back?

What Happens When a Chiropractor Cracks Your Back?

What Happens When a Chiropractor Cracks Your Back?

What Happens When a Chiropractor Cracks Your BackOne of the most well-known techniques performed by chiropractors is spinal manipulation, often referred to as “cracking” or “popping” the back or neck. This controlled thrust creates an audible release of gas from the spinal joints. But what exactly is happening inside the body when a chiropractor cracks your back?

Release of Gas Bubble

The popping sound made during a spinal adjustment is caused by releasing a gas bubble from the synovial fluids that lubricate the joints. When the joint surfaces are gently pulled apart, it creates a low pressure environment that causes these gas pockets to rapidly release and make a cracking noise. This gas is about 80% carbon dioxide.

Relieving Joint Pressure/Tension

Beyond just the audible pop, the overall goal of spinal manipulation is to relieve joint restrictions or areas where movement may be slightly abnormal. The quick thrust helps restore proper joint motion and relieve pressure or tension on the surrounding soft tissues like muscles, tendons and ligaments.
It is also important to keep in mind that in some cases, the adjustment may not be accompanied by an audible “crack” or “pop”. There are many types of treatment styles that may be utilised by your chiropractor that are more gentle and low force which may not be accompanied by an audible noise when adjusted.

Improved Mobility

When spinal joints become fixated or immobile, it can contribute to pain, muscle tightness, reduced range of motion and other problems. Adjustments help re-establish proper mobility of the joints, allowing the spine to move more freely with less restriction or discomfort.

Improved Nervous System Function

A key principle of chiropractic is that spinal misalignments can affect nerve function and overall systemic health. Adjustments are intended to reposition vertebrae, remove nerve irritation and compression, and allow the nervous system to function optimally.

Muscle Relaxation and Pain Relief

Restoring normal joint mechanics through spinal manipulation techniques can have a relaxing effect on the surrounding paraspinal musculature. This muscle relaxation, combined with improved mobility and nervous system function, can provide relief for acute or chronic back and neck pain.

While the cracking sounds can seem concerning, adjustments performed by licensed chiropractors are safe and controlled procedures. Chiropractors receive extensive training on proper adjustment techniques and strategies to deliver quick, precise thrust forces without causing injury.

After an adjustment, chiropractors often recommend applying ice to the affected area to reduce any residual inflammation and discomfort. Stretches and exercises are also prescribed to retain the adjustment’s benefits. For most people, the immediate feeling is one of improved mobility and relief from musculoskeletal pain or nerve irritation. If any pain or discomfort persists, alerting your chiropractor is recommended.

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