Is clicking your own neck & back safe?

05 October 2017

women clicking her neck Willow Chiropractic

Imagine you’re sitting at a computer and your neck feels stiff, so you roll your head around, causing that satisfying popping sound in your neck. Or your back is sore, so you press your hands against your spine, leaning backwards till you hear a pop. Aah – instant relief!

Everyone does it – but is it safe?

What really happens when you click your back or neck?

Where the bones on each side of your vertebrae interface, they can become locked. Self-adjusting your neck or back can cause any of the many joints there to release, causing a negative pressure situation.

A 2015 study from the University of Alberta in Canada showed that the popping sound you hear when you put pressure on one of your joints quickly is due to movement of the synovial fluid surrounding your joints into that vacuum, rather than anything “popping” as such.

So does that means it’s ok to do it? Well, not necessarily. The body doesn’t like to be stuck; it wants to move. But while getting anything moving will feel pleasant temporarily, it may not be the best long-term solution.

The risk factors of self-adjusting

self adjustment

The neck and back are complex parts of the body, with 34 closely linked bones in the spine alone, not to mention intervertebral discs, ligaments, nerves and the spinal cord itself. So you really need to know what you’re doing when you use any force on this delicate area. For example, you might not be aware that you have other issues, such as a bulging disc (also known as a slipped disc or protruding disc).

Cracking or clicking your neck or back might give you relief for a while, but it won’t fix things. When you crack your own back or neck, you will tighten the interfacing joints. Over time, this can become a problem for the structure and stability that your neck and back need to function properly. You might even end up with a pinched nerve or misaligned vertebra, causing stiffness, pain, and restriction of movement.

With self-adjustment, the joints that are locked and causing discomfort will remain locked, while already over-stretched ligaments are stretched out further. If the cause of your pain is that one or more of the bones of your spine have moved out of place and is creating pressure on your spinal nerves – a process called subluxation – clicking your own back or neck won’t resolve this complex issue. After a while, you will find yourself having to click again, leaving the underlying problem that is causing you pain unresolved, and stopping you enjoying life to the full.

The benefits of specific chiropractic care

Wrist massage

While you might hear the same popping sound when you have your back or neck adjusted by a chiropractor, there’s a world of difference between the two procedures. Before doing an adjustment, a professional chiropractor will do a complete investigation of your spine to find out which primary joint is causing your nervous system to be the most stressed. Any adjustments will be highly specific to the segment that is not working properly.

If you do it yourself, you might well be clicking the wrong joints, which are already moving too much and might be above or below the ones that are an actual problem. You also risk affecting the nervous system, which is the central hub of the body.

Chances are, if you’re regularly needing to click your back or neck, you need chiropractic care. At Willow, your chiropractor will carefully explain the results of the findings with you and create a treatment plan to get your spine functioning correctly – so you no longer need to crack your own joints and risk more neck and back problems.

With our support, you will also learn correct posture and potentially lifestyle adjustments, leaving you free to work at a computer without discomfort and enjoy your favourite hobbies and family activities.


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