back cracking

Can Bone Cracking Help with Back and Neck Pain?

Lots of us may naturally feel slight cracks in our joints. Many people feel the ‘cracking’ in their fingers or toes for example – but others might also experience it regularly in their neck or back. Actually, any joint can be ‘cracked’ and there are some cases of people cracking unexpected joints such as elbows or hips too.

Most people experience the bone cracking sensation themselves – as it’s something that happens when they move, or put pressure on the joint. This is totally normal, and most of the time this shouldn’t cause you pain or discomfort. In fact, for some joints and areas of the body, this cracking can be professionally done to help relieve pain and tension.

For your neck and back, the cracking of these joints can actually be controlled and performed by a chiropractor, in order to help relieve pain or tension. It’s a popular and well-known treatment, and you might be wondering how it works and what it can help with.

But first of all, it’s important to know what we mean when we talk about cracking. It’s not actually the breaking or splintering of bones (although the name would imply it).

What Causes Bone Cracking?

It’s important to know, the cracking word is used to describe the noise the sensation makes – it’s not actually referring to anything being broken or split. There are generally two main causes for this cracking  which we’ll talk about below.

Escaping gas

You might not know it, but there is actually fluids in your bone joints, which helps the bones move together without irritation. It keeps the movement of the joints smooth and (mostly) painless. This fluid inside your joints contains oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. In certain joints of the body, such as facet joints, you’ll find a capsule around it that is filled with fluid and gas. It’s this gas that makes the popping or cracking noise when the joint is moved or stretched. The noise comes from the gas being quickly released in the form of tiny bubbles.

Movement

Whenever you move one of your joints, you’ll also be directly affecting the muscles and ligaments around it too. If (for example) a tendon near your joint is slightly out of place, it might make a cracking (or snapping) sounds when it moves back into place. This sound can also occur when the ligaments are snapped back into place.

How Does Bone Cracking in your Neck and Back Help?

The practice of neck cracking is often something performed by chiropractors, and it’s recommended that you only have a professional work on your neck and back – especially as they’re such sensitive areas. The process of bone cracking is formally referred to as cervical spine manipulation – and whilst you should attempt to correct anything yourself – going to a professional can help ease any pain or discomfort.

Here are some signs that you may need to visit a professional:

  • You notice unusual or any swelling in your neck,
  • You have chronic pain that doesn’t go away and doesn’t improve,
  • You notice your joints becoming stiff or painful,
  • The pain is stopping you from working or enjoying normal life.

Cracking the neck and back can have wonderful life-changing results for many patients, as it helps with pain relief and tension relief for lots of people. There are (of course) risks with this kind of procedure, but it’s for that reason that you should always check the credentials of your chiropractor before having any treatments. Ensuring that they’re professional, certified and licensed is the best

Neck and back manipulation, when done correctly, can help with the following things:

  • Correct the positioning of the spine,
  • Relieve pain in the spine area,
  • Relieve aching in the back / spine,
  • Relieve pain in the neck area,
  • Relieve aching in the neck and shoulders.

Your chiropractor will discuss with you the approach they will be taking, and how they expect to see improvements and what the outcome will hopefully be. Many patients who have back or neck cracking done with a chiropractor also say they noticed other symptoms improving too, such as:

  • Less migraine pain,
  • Less pressure headaches,
  • Less lower back pain,
  • Reduced hip pain.

Ensuring the Results Stick Around

It is recommended after treatment, that you keep up a healthy lifestyle and make positive changes to your routine which won’t damage your joints, spine or neck and further. A common problem, is that when people feel the pain ease off after a session – they carry on doing harmful habits that then takes them back to the same painful situation again. It’s important that you ensure you’re nurturing the area, rather than making it worse.

A few bad habits to look out for are:

  • Keeping a bad mattress, or falling asleep on furniture that isn’t your bed,
  • Not stretching daily,
  • Carrying heavy shoulder bags or backpacks,
  • Carrying heavy shopping bags at the supermarket,
  • Being too active with children (picking them up, swinging them around, etc).

If you can wipe out any bad habits, and cultivate good habits, you should see lasting results from your bone cracking treatment. Whilst the bone cracking treatments aren’t guaranteed to work for everyone, many people swear by their effectiveness, especially in helping them manage and cope with joint pain.

bones crack

Why Do Bones Crack and Why Does it Feel Good

We’ve all experienced that cracking noise that can sometimes come from joints or bones. For some it’s a cracking sensation, for others it may feel like a snap or a pop.

Most of us don’t feel any pain from bone ‘cracking’, it’s just a part of our bodies, and a part of our joints and ligaments. In fact, for many of us – we might like the feeling! For lots of people, the ‘cracking’ or ‘popping’ can help to temporarily relieve pain, and might even help relieve tension in the area too.

Whilst in the past people would scare others by saying that bone cracking led to conditions such as arthritis, nothing as such has been scientifically proven yet, and is unlikely to be.

Lots of joints in the body can crack and pop – but the most common tend to be:

  • Knuckles,
  • Fingers,
  • Knees,
  • Hips,
  • Toes,
  • Neck,
  • Back.

Whilst most of the time, you’ll experience the bone cracking sensation at home or on your own, it is possible to pay a professional to strategically crack and align your joints. This tends to be most popular with the neck and back, and is often performed by chiropractors.

Cracking your fingers or toes at home is relatively risk free, but you should never attempt to crack your neck or back at home or by yourself. Yes, a cracked back can help ease pain and tension – but your neck and back (because of the complexity of the joints and bones) need to be treated by a professional in these cases.

Should I Be Worried if My Bones Crack a Lot?

It might be a little worrying if you’re constantly hearing your bones crack, but rest assured, it’s relatively normal. As long as it’s not causing you any discomfort or pain, then it’s not usually something to be concerned about.

Do consider swelling or redness though – because if either of these things accompanies the cracking, then you might want to visit a doctor and get yourself looked at properly.

Just approach the cracking with a sense of instinct. If you’re feeling pain of discomfort from it, then something might be wrong. If your joints don’t look regular, then something might be wrong.

What Causes the ‘Cracking’ Noise?

It’s important to understand that when your joints make that cracking sound it’s not actually your bones cracking or splitting. The cracking just refer to sound it makes, not the actual action or cause.

There are a few reasons your body might be making those cracking sounds though – and you can read about them below:

Escaping gases: Probably the most common cause of this noise is the gas bubbles escaping from your joints and making little popping sounds. The gas comes from the fluid in your joints (which is there to help keep joints moving smoothly and pain free).

Movement of joints, tendons and ligaments: When you move any joint in your body, it’ll affect the ligaments and tendons around (big or small). When a position changes, you might hear a snapping sound as the tendon or ligament returns to its proper place. This noise is most common in ankle and knees, and the lower half of the body.

Loss of cartilage: In people with arthritis, their joints tend to be louder than those without. This is often due to a lack of cartilage, which means the bones are rubbing together more and thus, making more noise. This cause tends to be present in a lot of older people, as cartilage naturally lessens with age, regardless or arthritis or not.

Why Does it Feel Good?

When bones crack it feels good because in most cases the cracking or popping noise has relieve tension from the surrounding muscle, tendons or ligaments. It’s similar to having a good stretch in the morning – your body is adjusting and relaxing into a new position.

How Can I Stop my Bones from Cracking?

Some people may feel self conscious about the cracking noises, and may want to look at improving it.

The best tip for this, is to get moving and exercising. As well as strengthening your muscles. It’s not a guaranteed method of stopping the cracking noises, but it can help and you may see an improvement, especially if the noises are bothering you.

back care at a younger age

Taking Care of your Back at a Younger Age can have Long Term health Benefits

For many people, back issues aren’t something they consider or even think about, until the time comes when they start feeling problems and pain. It’s easy to ignore your posture and back health, especially if everything ‘feels fine’ and you’re not experiencing any discomfort or pain in that moment.

What you have to consider though, is the long game. Your back is going to be supporting you for your entire life, and it’s a part of your body that should be looked after and cared for. Just because you don’t currently experience any pain, doesn’t mean that bad habits or posture won’t affect the way your back feels in 10, 20 or even 30 years time.

Years of hunching, years of bad posture, years of heavy lifting can all weaken your back, and one day when you’re older, it might all creep up on you. But it’ll be too late to cure the irreversible damage you’ve done.

Taking care of your back at a young age is crucial to ensuring your back stays healthy and pain free when you reach middle age and old age. Forming good habits now, can save you a lot of discomfort later on.

So what good habits should you be trying to introduce to your daily routine? Take a read below:  

Sit upright at work (and try not to hunch)

The most important one (especially if you work at a desk or with a computer) is to avoid hunching and to practise good posture at your desk. You probably spend around 8 hours a day sat at your desk, and that’s a lot of time to be bent over or hunched over in poor posture positions.

Replace your work chair / desk with something more ergonomic

If you have the flexibility or the budget to look into new desks or new chairs  – then finding a high quality ergonomic option is ideal. There are loads of brands out there now that specialise in designing posture-friendly and back-friendly items, and you’ll really notice the difference. As well as well-designed chairs, standing desks are also a popular options right now – with many companies in Scandinavia providing them to all employees.

Stretch daily

A few basic yoga moves, or just some good old-fashioned stretching, can really help build strength and flexibility in your back muscles. Your back is always supporting you and your back muscles work extremely hard to centre your body and keep balance. Because of this, letting your muscles relax and stretching them out each day is a great habit to get into.

See a professional

If you experience any back pain in your youth, make sure you see a professional. Something that may seem small and annoying in youth, could end up being a bigger, more painful issue as the years tick by. A Chiropractor is there to assess your back’s posture and function, and they can suggest simple exercises and changes that will help improve even the smallest inconvenience or dullest pain. Start addressing any issues when you’re younger, and you’ll hopefully improve the situation for when you get older.

The sooner you address any back problems, the sooner you will reap the benefits of Chiropractic treatment and live in less pain.