What is the Popping and Cracking Sound Heard During a Chiropractic Adjustment?

What Is The Popping And Cracking Sound Heard During A Chiropractic Adjustment?

Play Video

As a Chiropractor, I'm often asked…

What is the popping and cracking sound that I hear during a chiropractic adjustment?

In between the vertebrae, we have the facet joints. These are the joints that bring the vertebrae together and allow the vertebral joints and the vertebrae to move together, as your body is turning in space, looking up and down, and bending.

Facet joints are no different from any other joints in your body, like your knee, your ankle, or your shoulder.

They are designed to move in different planes of motion. It's a little harder to understand this because these joints are within your spine, and you don't see your spine. They are inside your body, as compared to your wrists, knees, and hands that are a little easier to understand since you see the movements.

Around the facet joints, there are capsules. When these vertebrae misalign and get stuck out of their normal position, it may build up pressure inside the joint capsules. This pressure can cause an underlying neck and back pain, stiffness, pressure, and discomfort in the spine.

What happens when a Chiropractor cracks your back?

When the chiropractic adjustment takes place, it releases the pressure of gases inside the joint capsules and you hear an audible pop. The Popping is a combination of the facet joints realigning into their normal position and gas being released from the joints in the spine.

As part of the overall treatment, it is very important to address the muscles and ligaments in the spine as well.

We do recommend exercises and stretches for our patients. It is important for patients to maintain the postural corrections that we make in our treatments.

Stretching and strengthening, in combination with the chiropractic spinal adjustments to the spine, provides optimal outcomes.

Can you damage your back by cracking it?

Cracking your own back generally is safe but there is a small chance you could injure yourself. Chiropractic care is considered safe.

Like any other medical treatment, there are risks and benefits that should be discussed with your Chiropractor before beginning any treatment.

Is it possible to have a chiropractic adjustment without hearing cracking?

Yes. Most chiropractors are trained in techniques to use on patients who are scared of neck and back cracking.

Chiropractic adjustments with cracking are not always recommended either.

With certain conditions like Osteopenia, metastatic cancers, and prior spine surgery manual chiropractic adjustments are not recommended.

Most Chiropractors offer techniques where the spine does not crack but the vertebrae are still aligned.

The Activator Technique® and Cox Flexion Distraction Technique® are two popular techniques used in our clinic for patients who are not candidates for manual chiropractic adjustments.

There are a few reasons you may have a chiropractic adjustment with no pop…

  • Your spine was too stiff
  • The Chiropractor was inaccurate in his adjustment
  • The Chiropractor was inexperienced
  • Your spine popped but you did not hear it
  • You were nervous and clenched your muscle

The Takeaway

Chiropractic adjustments are safe and effective treatments for a variety of musculoskeletal conditions like back pain, neck pain, sciatica, pinched nerves, headaches, car accident injuries, TMJ, whiplash, and vertigo.

The cracking and popping sound heard is a combination of gas and pressure being released as the facet joints in the spine align.

Pain blocking feel-good chemicals are released which facilitates healing and injury recovery while increasing ranges of motion in stiff and tight joints.

If you have any additional questions about the safety of chiropractic care please feel free to get in touch.

  • 150+ 5-star Google reviews
  • We accept most insurance, including Blue Cross Blue Shield State Health Plan
  • Online scheduling
  • 24/7 after-hour answering service
  • Friendly, prompt customer service
  • Board certified expert Chiropractor
  • Tailor-made care plans to relieve your aches and pains as quickly as possible


9:00am - 6:00pm

9:00am - 6:00pm

9:00am - 6:00pm

9:00am - 6:00pm

10:00am - 4:00pm

Saturday & Sunday

Carolina ChiroCare and Rehab

1207 Ridge Rd
Raleigh, NC 27607

(919) 351-8368
Patient Choice Icon
Talk of the Town Icon