A common question I get from new or even “veteran” chiropractic patients is , “What makes that cracking sound?” To many people, the release that occurs with the chiropractic adjustment sounds like bones cracking or even grinding together.
This couldn’t be further from the truth!
Bones cracking is not a good thing. If this happened with each adjustment, most chiropractors would probably be out of business real quickly! But that is the perception that many hold.
Hopefully this brief article will shed some light on the subject and you will understand what the cracking and popping is all about.
Interference to the Spine
First of all, the reason we do the chiropractic adjustment is to relieve pressure or irritation from the nerves. The subluxation is the name given to the spinal dysfunction that is being corrected with each adjustment. If you think of a subluxation as a misalignment of a hard bone on a soft nerve than you can see that something must be done to remove the pressure of the bone from the nerve.
That’s where the adjustment comes in.
Why is this so important? Think of your nerves as the lifeline to your body. They carry the communication from the brain to the body and must function properly in order for YOU to function properly. Subluxations interfere with normal nerve function leading to dysfunction somewhere in the body. This is the reason chiropractors strive to remove the interference to the nerve system by adjusting the spine back into balance.
After a thorough analysis of the spinal joints and musculature the chiropractor will place his or her hands gently on the spine and assess the area of dysfunction. Then applying a calculated and measured force he or she will manually adjust the alignment of the spinal bones. This short, quick and specific movement effectively realigns the spinal bone.
More importantly – it takes pressure off the nerve.
And what happens when this pressure is released is often a “crack-like” sound. It has been shown to be a pressure released within the spinal joint due to the synovial capsule being stretched. This creates a small negative air space (an air bubble) that bursts and then you hear the infamous sound.
A good way to think of it is like opening a can of pop. Opening a can of pop releases built up gas within the can. Releasing the pressure on the nerves at the spinal levels releases the gas (it has been found to be a nitrogen gas) within the joints of the spine. Thus, the “pop.”
It feels great and it is a very healthy thing when done properly by a trained chiropractor.
The popping sound is not the key to the procedure, however. In fact, many chiropractors practice techniques of adjusting subluxations without requiring this popping or cracking sound. Some people think that having their children walk on their back is the equivalent to getting an adjustment.
This couldn’t be more wrong!
A true adjustment is a specific force in a specific direction with a specific purpose. It is not a willy-nilly cracking of different areas of the body by a heel-stomping pre-teen. 🙂
So, hopefully you now see that a chiropractic adjustment is more than the sound. The sound that may be heard is not the key to the procedure and the sound need not be a scary thing.
If you have any questions about this procedure or about the kind of chiropractic we offer in our clinic, call us – we’re here to help!
Dr. Joel Fugleberg