Neck cracking is the subject of much debate, especially since it was recently reported by Mercy Hospital that a 28-year-old from Oklahoma had suffered a stroke after cracking his own neck. While this is apparently a very rare occurrence, cracking your own neck is definitely a risk that most medical professionals will advise against.
What Happens When Your Neck is Cracked?
A study performed in 2015, where researchers were able to observe a real-time visualization via MRI of a knuckle “crack,” offers clear evidence that debunked the original “gas bubble” theory, proposed in 1947, that had been assumed to be the cause for many years. This “gas bubble” theory suggested that the gas bubble popping was the cause of the noise, but there was never any evidence.
The evidence from the 2015 study proves that a cavity can form due to the negative pressure created when the joint is cracked. The popping sound is made by the formation of the gas cavity, otherwise known as cavitation, not the popping of the bubble. You may have noticed that you cannot immediately crack your neck or knuckles again for a while. This is because it takes a while for the gases to re-accumulate. Watch exactly what happens in this real knuckle cracking MRI video from wired.com!
Why Do People Crack Their Neck?
Chances are you have or have seen someone crack one of their own joints. Knuckle cracking is popular. In fact, between 25 and 54 percent of people crack their knuckles according to medicalnewstoday.com. Hearing the “popping” sound may cause you to react similarly to the way people react after hearing nails scratch across a chalkboard. Though, if you are a person who engages in cracking, this may actually invoke a feeling of peace.
3 Common Reasons Why People Crack Their Knuckles or Joints
- Release of pressure
Is It Safe to Crack Your Neck?
Evidence shows that, in general, neck cracking is generally safe, especially when it occurs naturally or when performed by a medical professional such as a Chiropractor or Physical Therapist who have been extensively educated and trained.
Joint cracking was once thought to cause arthritis, but this has never been proven by any of the studies undertaken. However, there is a slight risk that neck cracking, or as it is referred to in the chiropractic community, high-velocity upper neck manipulation, may cause a very rare type of stroke. Most of these occurrences happen in people with a pre-existing condition.
Since there is even a slight risk involved, most doctors would advise against cracking your own neck and never let a friend or an untrained, non-professional person do it for you. Please consult with a professional if you are in the habit of forcibly cracking your own neck.
Possible Benefits of Neck Cracking
A study suggests that people report positive mental effects after having a chiropractor crack their neck. This is most likely caused because:
- People have learned to associate the cracking sounds with the release of pressure.
- Endorphins. These are released by your body when you crack your neck. It helps to manage pain and causes a positive feeling.
Total Chiropractic and Wellness Can Help
Dr. Goldman can help you determine if neck adjustments are an appropriate treatment for you. To find out the right treatment for your individual needs, contact us today!