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The crack of the chiropractor


What do a bottle of champagne and a vertebral adjustment have in common?

The noise a cava bottle makes when it is uncovered or the sound a spinal adjustment your chiropractor does, is it called Cavitation.

It is achieved by decompressing a liquid when the gas it contains expands.

That noise, during chiropractic spinal adjustment, is completely normal.

We tell you why. 

It is a physical process by which a liquid subjected to a lot of pressure, changes to vapor state, creating bubbles (air or gas) that explode when released.

Another meaning of the term cavitation is found in the world of body care as a treatment for cellulite, which works from the lymphatic system.

But in this article, we talk about this concept to explain what happens during a spinal adjustment with your chiropractor.

When your chiropractor adjusts your spine, sometimes you hear that noise, like a ‘creck’, like when you stretch your fingers. 

Why does that noise happen?

When we exert pressure or stretch any joint of the body, the capsules around it dilate. These capsules contain liquid, and by stretching them they allow the liquid to exert less pressure on the joint.

As the pressure decreases, the fluids in the joint become gas. When the fluid becomes a gas and it is released, it produces a loud noise: the known creck

Stretching the joints is a common habit. Many people do it. We crackle our knuckles, fingers, toes, backs and even our necks. But not all do it for the same reason. Some of us do it to release the pressure we feel on our shoulders or neck or as a reaction to stress. Sometimes it’s just a matter of habit. 

The noise, 

They are simply bubbles or pockets of gas that explode, like the typical image of “bubble paper”a kind of wrapping paper, used to wrap ceramics or delicate things. These pockets are formed inside the fluid that surrounds the joints. And when the tissues of the joint are stretched during a chiropractic adjustment, the air pockets open, creating the cracking sound that is heard.

Normally after this noise and this movement, you feel that you have more mobility in the area. However, sometimes, the muscles may be sore or tense. It depends a lot on the kind of person you are and your history or background.

The chiropractor, usually, recommends along the vertebral adjustments, to incorporate a preventive care, in daily life. Like specific exercises, ergonomic tips on how to bend the knees or how to get up (in the previous article we discussed the good postures when sitting, standing and sleeping).

If you maintain a good mobility, it is easier that your muscles do not get encyst. And by performing the vertebral adjustment, you’ll simply feel relief. Before, we mentioned tha,t sometimes, there are people who do it by habit or to release tension, but you must bear in your mind that, who does it to himself is not a specialist in the mobility of those bones that are “repositioning”. It is not the same as to go to a real specialist, your chiropractor. 

What happens when we do “it” in our neck, for example:

The facet joints are stretched, which allows the fluid to spread through the joint capsule. With this movement, the liquid becomes gas, and as the pressure on it decreases, the bubbles burst producing the characteristic sound. This is what makes it feels like a pressure is released from the neck area.

Being so close to the auditory pavilion, any sound that comes from a setting that is made at the cervical level, it will seem much louder.

Doing it the wrong way, too often or too hard, it may cause you more pain or discomfort than you felt before. Although, sometimes, this discomfort is greater over time. So, you still have time to stop it and to do it well.

One study showed that feeling that ‘creck’ when you go to a chiropractor, can have a positive mental effect. This is because many people associate cracking sounds with the release of pressure and the successful fit of a joint. But sometimes, the adjustment is made equally without sound. That implies that they needed to move that vertebra equally but that there was not so much gas accumulated.

That movement also releases endorphins in the area where it happens. The pituitary gland produces endorphins and the body releases them to help control pain. This gives you a feeling of satisfaction and pleasure.

How risky is this “crack”?

If we do it to ourselves, something can be broken, sprainted or misplaced. Or if we do it too hard you can pinch the nerves of your neck. Pinching a nerve can be extremely painful and make it difficult or impossible to move without discomfort, afterwards.

In turn, it can control the muscles that surround the joints, and the joints themselves. It can also create (as a result of those pinched nerves) tingling in the extremities, headache, dizziness, vertigo, and infinite more symptoms.

Feeling that you need to do it every day and more than once per day, may be the result of hypermobility. Which means that a joint has a wider range of motion than normal. When you give in to your “needed self-made creck”, the ligaments of your joints can stretch permanently. When this happens, the joints of your neck are more at risk of developing osteoarthritis, for example.

The neck, in this case, is home to many important blood vessels. In some cases, doing it too hard or too often can puncture one of these blood vessels. It can also cause blood to clot, which can be dangerous since it blocks the flow of blood to your brain.

That is why it is very important that everyone who have a nervous system and spine go to a chiropractic specialist, to create the exact range of motion for each one and to be able to function properly. 

Each person has a pattern of movement and when we are well aligned, it’s easier for us to maintain a good health and to prevent diseases. In that way, we would not get sick or have nerve pinchments or take medications.

Chiropractic is not a treatment, it is a care. And it is true that there are people who do not understand this concept and, that is why the term “chiropractic treatment” is, often, used. Above all, what must be taken into account, is that, it really is ‘something’ non-surgical, non-invasive, and that it deals with the root, the cause, from the beginning. 

So, back to the noise, what does a chiropractic doctor do when you hear a cracking sound?

A chiropractic adjustment stretches the joint causing the surfaces to separate (all within the normal range). The gases are released from the synovial fluid into the joint, which generates the sound of bursting. There is a temporary vacuum within the articulation of gases; this slowly dissolves back into the synovial fluid.

The next time you’ll get adjusted, remember that your chiropractor is taking out your subluxations. And that if you hear a sound (the creck); just relax. It only means that the gases were released and that you are going towards less pain and more movement. Which is normal.

Do not hesitate to call us, either to schedule a first visit or to answer your questions. We will wait for you 🙂


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