Chiropractic adjustments often accompany a popping or cracking sound. This natural and harmless cause and effect creates occasional moments of anxiety for people unaccustomed to experiencing the benefits of an adjustment. People sometimes think the sound originates from bones popping or cracking or rubbing together. The actual source of the sounds associated with healthy adjustments comes from pressure being released from a joint. These joints accumulate pressure where two parts of the human skeleton fit together. Most joints exist to move by their natural design. Chiropractors assess and adjust misaligned and locked up spinal vertebrae to help the spine move freely and promote improved nervous system function.
Research from 2015 helped explain the mechanism for how a chiropractic adjustment reduces stress through a quick gentle force. The adjustment slightly separates the joint by overcoming the protective muscle reflexes and reducing adhesive scar tissue formation while improving motion. This process occurs without injury to any of the tissues involved. The popping or cracking noise simply comes from gas being released from the joint when the gapping occurs. Some adjustments take place without any noise heard or felt by the patient while other adjustments release enough pressure on a joint to produce an audible sound.
The spine consists of over 24 moveable bones called vertebrae. Chiropractors assess the alignment and movement of the vertebrae to locate any joints that become immobile or misaligned. These partially dislocated joints, called subluxations, represent a vitally influential aspect of human health due to the spine’s intimate connection with the nervous system. The spine houses and protects the spinal cord and nerves, providing openings to the spinal nerve roots that exit through each vertebra. Experts refer to the spine as a “neuro-spinal organ” because of the large amounts of tiny neurons located in and around the bones and joints of each vertebra. The health of the spine allows tiny neurons to give uninterrupted feedback to the brain so that appropriate messages can be delivered to and from all organs on a regular basis. The relationship between the spine and all organs of the body proves vital to overall health and function and details why a properly aligned spine represents an essential and proactive part of every family’s health plan.
PLoS One 2015
“Real-Time Visualization of Joint Cavitation.”
Gregory N. Kawchuk, Jerome Fryer, Jacob L. Jaremko, Hongbo Zeng, Lindsay Rowe, and Richard Thompson