What Pops or Cracks With A Chiropractic Adjustment?

As a chiropractor, I’m often asked about what I do. How does someone’s back relate to overall health (read this) and often the question comes up about the ‘cracking’ sound. Well, for some reason, it never occurred to me before now to address this question in a blog post….until now.

chiropractic adjustment

This cereal will “snap, crackle and pop”, your spine doesn’t.

What Cracks?

It wouldn’t be fair to go on with the answer without giving a little bit of anatomy, it will help make the point more clear. So, the joints of the spine – the points where each spinal bone, or vertebra connect with one another – are of a special type. They are called synovial joints, the disc is another type of joint but not the topic of this particular post.


Inside of synovial joints, there is a lining that is responsible for producing a fluid that lubricates the surfaces of the joints. There are gases, like nitrogen, carbon dioxide and oxygen within the fluid as well. The joint surfaces themselves are also covered in a smooth substance that allows for a very easy gliding movement.

Now, your knuckles also have a very similar joint structure – the reason I mention this will make sense in a moment.

As the joints are stretched to the max of their normal range of motion through bending flexing or twisting, then just slightly beyond, a vacuum within the joint space is created. This vacuum causes those gases inside the synovial fluid (mentioned above) to be released and it causes a popping sound. This release of gas is what you hear as the ‘crack’ or pop inside your joint.

It isn’t caused by bones hitting each other, ligaments snapping or any other scary event. It’s just gas being released. It’s the same thing that happens in your knuckles if you ‘pop your knuckles’. Having a licensed chiropractor do this will not damage your spine. It will not lead to early arthritis or other things you may have heard either.

If you want to find out why a chiropractic adjustment may or may not cause your spine to ‘pop’ and whether this has anything to do with being misaligned, read more here

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