Why Does the Spine Pop & is it Bad to Crack your Back?

Category: Back Pain, Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: May 20, 2014

crack your backHave you ever twisted or stretched your back in a certain way that caused it to “crack” or “pop” – similar to the sensation of cracking your knuckles? Chances are the answer is yes. Many people routinely crack their backs or necks when they are tense or in pain. But what causes the back to “pop” in this manner? More importantly, is cracking your back bad for your spine? In this article we will answer these questions and more.

What Causes the Back to “Pop”?

The popping sensation you feel when you crack your back is a result of an influx of nitrogen into the facet joints of the spine. Our joints are filled with dissolved gasses such as nitrogen and carbon dioxide, which help keep the joints lubricated. When you crack your back, the joints are opened up and release these gasses in bubble form, which then burst and create a popping sound. When these gasses pop, the joint is given an increased range of motion for a limited amount of time.

Is Popping Bad for your Spine?

It is a common myth that cracking your back is bad for you. Some even claim that it causes arthritis. This is false. Popping your back will not cause any harm to your spine. In fact, the process can reduce pain and relieve tension. So if cracking your back feels good, by all means crack your back! But be careful not to force your back to crack. Let the popping happen naturally.

There are also situations in which you should be concerned about popping sounds. If you are experiencing intense pain, numbness, or swelling accompanying the popping sound, that could be a sign that something much more serious is going on. Seek medical help immediately if you have any combination of these symptoms.


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