Chiropractic – What is the Snap, Crack or Pop?
Pull. SNAP! Twist. CRACK! Bend. POP! OMG! What is going on?
Have you ever wondered what all the noise is when your chiropractor manipulates your joints? Is it normal? Are you worried about it? Right away, let’s address the second two questions. Yes, it’s normal. And if you are worried about the noise, don’t be.
It’s important to understand exactly what a chiropractor is doing when he or she starts moving things around. Manipulating joints back into place is really adjusting subluxations. What is a subluxation? The medical definition is “a partial abnormal separation of the articular surfaces of a joint.” (Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, v1.5, 1995; www.spine-health.com). More simply put, it’s a joint that has become stuck or has lost its full range of motion. The chiropractor is “unsticking” the joint so it can move as it should.
A quick lesson on joints…Joints are where two surfaces, covered in smooth cartilage, meet. These surfaces are surrounded by a fluid called synovial fluid. This fluid lubricates and includes nutrients for the joints to keep them healthy and operating properly (i.e., full range of motion).
Stuck joints (subluxations) can cause a variety of problems for the body such as stiffness or restricted motion, feeling “locked up” like you can’t turn your head or stand up straight, inflammation and pain. Subluxations often irritate the nerves where they connect to the spine. Given the sensitivity of the nervous system, adjusting subluxations starts to become quite important.
So back to the noise. A chiropractic adjustment stretches the joint causing the surfaces to separate (all within normal range). Gases release from the synovial fluid into the joint generating the popping sound. There is a temporary vacuum within the joint from the gases; this slowly dissolves back into the synovial fluid.
Next time your chiropractor adjusts your subluxations and you hear a loud crack or pop, relax. It only means he released the gases and is moving you towards less pain and more motion.
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