I Don't Need A Chiropractor, I Can Crack My Own Back!
"I can crack my own back." Dr. Adam Sagedahl from Full Motion Chiroractic in Hopkins, MN here. Those are words I often hear from patients and many times they'll say they were able to "fix" something on their own by doing that. And while it's not impossible that they were able restore some motion to a dysfunctional joint, it's very likely that what occurred was more like a band-aid than any kind of actual fix.
I first want to try to explain what happens when your back "cracks". There is a fluid filled space within each of our joints and when we go about our day moving around small gas bubbles form in that space. When a joint is "cracked" or "adjusted" as a chiropractor would say, these gas bubbles are released and give off the sound you often hear. It's the same whether it's your knuckles, your spine or any other joint in your body. Other things take place as well that are part of helping the body to heal such as a release of endorphins, the "feel good chemical" (more on that later) and most importantly, a breaking up of adhesions that are restricting normal joint movement. It's these restrictions that eventually lead to your brain recognizing there's an irritation, and that recognition then leads to an inflammatory event which is what often is the actual cause of the pain you feel.
The big thing to keep in mind is that your spine is made up of several small bones called vertebrae that have a left and right-sided joint space with the vertbrae above and below it. The full length of your spine is technically one long "kinetic chain" of bones that have to move together, individually but in unison, with each other as we move our body. If one vertebrae becomes lacking, or dysfunctional in movement with another because of a joint restriction (usually as a result of an injury, physical stress or even poor posture) then that extra stress will be spread to the surrounding joints above and below.
What this then causes is the vertebrae nearby the area of restriction to move MORE than it typically would. It becomes "hypermobile". When you "crack" your own neck or back it's almost always just a hypermobile joint that will release and give off the popping sound while the problem-causing stuck joint actually takes a more concentrated force to restore the movement - THE CHIROPRACTIC ADJUSTMENT!
So in conclusion, you'll often feel temporarily better (because of the endorphin release) after "cracking" your own back or neck but it's almost always a mistake to think you are fixing something. You're basically just getting bones to move that are already moving more than they should because they're trying to make up for another nearby joint that is not moving properly. The only way to fix that would be to see a chiropractor. Very often I hear from my patients that once they've gone through chiropractic care and restored the proper movement throughout the entire spine, they've either greatly reduced or no longer have the habit of "cracking" their own neck or back.
If you live near Hopkins, MN or the West metro and have been looking for a chiropractor because you've been dealing with neck or back pain, headaches or any other joint pain give me a call at 612-655-3073 or you can easily request an appointment online. I'm in-network with virtaully all MN insurance plans. If you or someone you know has an injury from an auto accident it's even more important to be checked out right away to help prevent future problems.