What’s all that cracking, anyway?

Because I am immersed in chiropractic every day, sometimes I forget that there are many things about what I do that people don’t understand – For example, during an adjustment, “What is that cracking sound?”

First of all, I’ll tell you what it is not:  It is not bones breaking!  It is not joints rubbing together or grinding!  It is not ligaments snapping!  Nothing bad is happening!

Here’s the easiest way I can explain it:  Your joints are filled with fluid (this is a good thing),  and when your joints are moving, it is almost like a pump, moving out the waste products and bringing in fresh ones.  When your joints stop moving, the waste products build up, and that is when the problems can begin.  Most of the time, your body will self-adjust.  For example, if you are sitting in a chair for an extended time and then stand up to stretch, you will hear a bunch of “cracks” coming from many of the joints in your body.  The sound you hear is the sudden release of gasses and waste products from the joint.  It is similar to what happens when you open a can of pop – the sudden release of gasses from within the container when the seal is broken creates a cracking sound.




People ask me all the time if spontaneous cracking sounds in their joints is okay.  My answer: It is actually very healthy- as long as it is not accompanied by pain.  If you hear and feel a cracking sound, chances are you’ll immediately feel a relief of tension and tightness in the area.

My job is to move the joints that are stuck, and try to get them to keep moving on their own.

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