Despite the funny play on words above, your bones and back are not the actual things “cracking” during a visit to the chiropractor. Many people have an adverse reaction or fear of this sound, however, popping or cracking sounds are considered normal during a chiropractic manipulation or adjustment.

Popping or cracking is caused by air releasing from the cushion material around your vertebrae.

Chiropractors focus on how the musculoskeletal and nervous systems interact with general health. Complaints of joint or nerve pain can often indicate a mechanical problem somewhere else in the body, whether that area is damaged, irritated, or inflamed. When alignment, movement, or function is impacted by this dysfunction or damage, this is referred to as subluxation. Chiropractic adjustments, also known as spinal manipulation, are the key method used to treat subluxation.

Watch A Chiropractor Perform Flexion Distraction – Live Demonstration!

During a visit, a chiropractor first examines his or her patient, asks a series of questions about the condition that prompted the visit, and may order x-rays. All of these diagnostic tests are done to correctly identify the source of the pain or stress in the body. Once the chiropractor has determined the source, he or she may perform a manipulation that results in that cracking or popping noise when air or gas is released from the cushioning materials. It’s important to understand that the sound itself is an indication of the chiropractor successfully adjusting the area of pain or stress.

As discussed earlier on the blog, chiropractic treatments are a safe and effective way to treat pain, with highly trained medical professionals leading the care. 

There are also many chiropractic techniques that don’t create a popping or cracking sound which may be preferred by those affected by the sound. The flexion distraction technique uses a specially designed table to gently lengthen the spine either downward or laterally. It is especially recommended for those with arthritis, osteoporosis, or low back pain from pregnancy.

Another option may be the use of an activator tool–a specialized, spring-loaded tool that helps relieve pain and pressure at precise points along the body.

While popping and cracking sounds are considered normal, you do have options if you want to avoid them in your treatment. How do you feel about cracking and popping noises during a chiropractic visit?  

Image by Michael Dorausch via Flickr

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