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Dr. Robbyn KeatingFeb 1, 2018 9:00:00 AM6 min read

What Happens When You Crack Your Back?

Why Does Your Back Crack?

Scientists explain that synovial fluid present in your joints acts as a lubricant. The fluid contains the gases oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. When you pop or crack a joint, you stretch the joint capsule.

Gas is rapidly released, which forms bubbles. To crack the same knuckle again, you must wait until the gases return to the synovial fluid.

This blog looks at back cracking and its benefits, if any. We also examine what treatments are best to seek for professional adjustments.

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Many people crack their back, knuckles, and other joints, but what is happening when you crack your back, and what causes the popping noise?

Experts have determined that several factors give you the ability to crack your joints and result in the popping noise you hear.

Why Does my Back Crack? Should I see a Chiropractor?

Cracking your back stretches squishy capsules on the outer edges of the vertebrae around joints called facet joints.

Extending these capsules allows the synovial fluid inside them more space to move around, releasing pressure on your back joints and muscles and moving your facet joints.

The 'popping' noise that happens can also be identified as a crack, snap, or grind. Everyone is different, and joints that crack on some individuals do not on others.

However, the most common joints that crack are the back, knuckles, knees, ankles, neck, wrist, and elbows.

Related blog post: 12 Signs that you Should Go See a Chiropractor for your Back Pain

What is the Top Reason for a Cracking Back? 

The release of gases or air bubbles is the most common cause of the sound you hear when cracking your back. In most of your body's joints, there is a trace amount of synovial fluid that acts as a lubricant. This fluid contains gases like nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and oxygen.

The presence of these gases is responsible for the popping noises you hear when cracking your back or your knuckles.

When cracking a joint, you are stretching the capsule and causing the gas to be released at a rapid pace.

This is also the reason you cannot immediately re-crack that same joint. You must wait until the gases are replenished in that capsule of synovial fluid to allow them to crack and pop again.

Other common causes of snapping, cracking, grinding, or popping joints include moving tendons and ligaments in your back and other joints.

Occasionally when a joint is moved, a tendon will change positions and move out of place. You may hear a pop or snap when it returns to its normal position.

In older adults, osteoarthritis is a probable cause of joint grinding.

Arthritic joints lacking in smooth cartilage tend to 'grind' against each other when moved due to the roughness of the joint's surface.

Can Back Cracking Bring Pain Relief?

Many people are guilty of cracking their back, and you have probably even cracked your back a few times to make yourself feel good when you get that feeling of relief from that release of pressure.

Is this a legitimate fix for back pain? What happens when you crack a joint? Do you experience that immediate sense of relief? That relaxed and loosened feeling? A feeling of an increased range of motion?

Although cracking your back is nice, you may know it is only a short-term fix for your back.

See, it is not normal for your back to continually be cracked to feel good and not tight or sore.

Cracking your back is not repairing the problem, healing the pain, or relieving stiffness.

Instead, it gives you a false sense of relief that will disappear in just a few moments.

Acknowledging the bigger picture and comprehending that something may be wrong, and your spine is probably out of alignment. 

You might have issues with your lower back that need treatment from a chiropractor or a physical therapist for long-lasting relief.

If this problem were fixed, it would reduce the need to crack your back, and you would feel relaxed and aligned all the time instead of just for that brief period after cracking.

We want people to know that their backs should not feel tight and stiff daily. You do not need to live like that!

So if you constantly feel like your back or lower back needs popped, do not wait any longer to contact a professional chiropractor to help develop a treatment plan to fix this problem.

Is Cracking Your Back Dangerous? 

Cracking your back is generally not dangerous if you do it cautiously and gently from time to time. Some rare instances have been known to hurt the spine or nerves due to aggressive cracking and jerking that are not natural. 

Most individuals crack their backs by stretching or twisting, in which natural cracking is unavoidable.

Some argue that cracking causes arthritis, but no medical evidence supports that claim.

Even though back cracking is not dangerous, that doesn't mean it is normal or recommended as a healing technique.

Treat The Issue At The Source

If you need to crack your back daily, we recommend seeking qualified professional chiropractic care to treat the issue at its source, offering prolonged relief from pain.

This is because some individuals that force their back to crack too often cause more significant pain and discomfort to the area.

You must remember that your spinal discs, cartilage, and nerves are fragile and delicate and should only be treated by an experienced chiropractor who is a professional in performing manual adjustments.

So although it feels good to crack your back, always be gentle and avoid any type of force.
However, when it comes to adjusting your spinal column, leave this job to the professionals and schedule an appointment with a chiropractor.

You do not want to cause yourself permanent damage and major pain by causing one of the discs in your back to slip or herniate.


What is Happening When a Chiropractor Cracks Your Back?

During a back adjustment, your back undergoes quick, gentle stretching of the spinal facet joint so that you may hear a cracking or popping sound. This is caused by small pockets of air or gas bubbles in the fluid surrounding a joint.

When joint tissues are stretched during a chiropractic adjustment, the air pockets "pop," which creates that cracking sound you hear. After this treatment, you may feel more movement in your back. However, the muscles may still be sore and tight.

Your chiropractor may also incorporate other chiropractic care treatments, such as muscle therapy. You should notice more back pain relief with each session.


See a Chiropractor for a Professional Adjustment


If you are experiencing pain in your joints or are experiencing pain when you crack your back, you should see a board-certified chiropractor immediately for a long-term solution.

Even if there is no pain when cracking your back, the need to constantly crack your back is a sign of a more significant issue, perhaps with your spinal cord.

A chiropractor can perform adjustments and give you medical advice that relieves discomfort and realign your spine to prevent the need to crack your back perpetually.

The chiropractic doctors at Arrowhead Clinic are experts at treating musculoskeletal and spinal injuries that cause back pain and have been a trusted name for nearly 40 years.

Click on the banner below to schedule your free consultation to feel good now.


Original article here.


Dr. Robbyn Keating

Dr. Keating joined the team at Arrowhead Clinic in 2016 to continue furthering her career as a chiropractic physician. She provides manual and hands-on chiropractic spinal manipulations along with therapy techniques to help restore function and mobility in the body. She specializes in treating a variety of accident injuries along with chronic neck and back pain. Dr. Keating moved to St. Louis, Missouri, from Alberta, Canada, in 2005 to earn her Bachelors of Science degree at Lindenwood University while on an ice hockey scholarship. While in college, she excelled in ice hockey and track and field events. Upon graduation from Lindenwood University, Dr. Keating furthered her education by pursuing her Doctorate of Chiropractic at Logan College of Chiropractic. She completed her doctorate studies in 2014 and then secured a highly sought-after position at a multidisciplinary wellness facility in the St. Louis metro area. It was there she trained under a well-respected chiropractor, who helped her hone her skills and techniques in a high-volume clinic. Since moving to Georgia in 2015, in addition to running the McDonough office for Arrowhead Clinic, Dr. Keating continues her long-standing passion for playing rugby with the Atlanta Harlequins Women's Rugby team. She participates in several local ice hockey leagues and is now working on mastering her cast in fly fishing. One of Dr. Keating’s accident patients stated, “Best clinic ever. Kendall, Hannah, Chloe, and Dr. Keating are the best. They have been so helpful during my accident, I have never been through anything like this, and they are making the process so easy and understandable. Recommend this place to anyone!” Dr. Keating offers potential patients same-day, free consultations. She is available Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.