Why is my Neck Cracking or Grinding?

Category: Neck Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: September 26, 2017

Neck Grinding

If your neck is stiff, you may notice it crack or grind a little when you stretch it from side to side. That’s not uncommon, but what happens if you begin to notice cracking or grinding in your neck on a more frequent basis. Is this a cause for concern, and if so, what treatment options are there? We answer those questions in today’s blog.

My Neck Is Cracking

The medical term for cracking or grinding sounds in your neck is known as crepitus, and it’s actually fairly common. By itself, crepitus isn’t a cause for concern. However, if you are experiencing other symptoms along with the cracking sensation, you should visit a spinal specialist. Some other symptoms that signal your crepitus is potentially problematic include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Nerve sensations in the shoulders or arms
  • Limited motion in the neck
  • Dizziness

The cracking sensation can be caused by a number of different mechanisms inside the neck. For example, medical researchers have found that changes in the synovial joint fluid pressure, movements of the ligaments or tendon near bones, and even bone on bone contact can all cause the grinding or cracking sensation in your neck.

Treating Cracking Or Grinding In Your Neck

As we noted above, if you are experiencing a grinding or cracking sensation in your neck, but you aren’t dealing with pain or other symptoms, then there’s really nothing to worry about. Keep an eye on it and let your doctor know if it becomes more frequent or if symptoms develop, but you don’t need to stress out about it.

If you are dealing with symptoms, your best bet is to schedule a visit with a spine specialist. Since there can be a number of different causes, you won’t be able to successfully treat the problem unless you first understand why it’s happening. A doctor can get a good understanding of what’s causing your neck to crack by manipulating your neck during a physical exam and by using imaging techniques like an X-ray or MRI.

Minnesota Neck Pain Doctor

Treatment involves treating the underlying problem, since cracking is a symptom of a larger issue. Some conservative treatment options include rest, physical therapy, strength training exercises and anti-inflammatory medications. If conservative care fails, or if you’re dealing with bone grinding due to bone spur development, your surgeon may recommend a minimally invasive operation to remove the problematic bone spurs. While this may not totally alleviate the cracking noise, it should take care of the true problem, which is what matters most.

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