Truth About Neck Cracking

Do Chiropractors Really “Crack Your Neck” When Giving You An Adjustment?

Despite what you may have been told, or think or possibly even experienced, the answer to this is …

NO!, Absolutely Not!

Let us clarify this issue right here & right now.

What chiropractors do is adjust or re-align your spine.

You need to have your spine checked on a regular basis to see if it requires re-aligning.

Everybody does!

No-one can have a healthy spine without having it adjusted or aligned.


Birth, falls, bumps,bruises, sports injuries, work injuries, your job, home maintenance activities, going to the gym, recreational sports, car accidents, emotional stress & tension, smoking, alcohol & drug abuse are just some of the things that cause your spine to go out of alignment.

What happens next? … pain, degeneration of spinal joints & spinal discs, pinched nerves, possible internal organ dysfunction, poor posture,scoliosis, poor immunity, lack of energy & accelerated aging just to name a few.

Are these not enough reasons for you and your family to get regular chiropractic care?

Now, Back To The ‘Cracking Thing’ …

These are some of the things that you can crack…

  • an egg
  • a smile
  • a whip
  • a window
  • a bottle of champagne
  • an ice cube tray.

Remember to ‘crack’ something usually means to partially break or break it. Well, the last thing that any chiropractor would want to do is ‘crack’ (break) your spine or your vertebrae.

Now, it is true that when you have your neck adjusted manually ,you do feel & hear a popping noise that will resemble a ‘crack’.

Let me assure you right here & right now that NOTHING IS BREAKING.

Listen, the amount of force required to manually move (adjust,re-align) a vertebra is 3-5 lbs of force.

This is a specifically directed & controlled force.

Compare this to the birth process — up to 60lbs of twist & torque & pulling of un-controlled force on a brand new neck that is not even strong enough to hold up its own head!

And this is if they do not use forceps or the vacuum assist.

Use your own deductive reasoning here.

What do you think would be more injurious to the spine (neck)?

And what you see in the movies is NOT what chiropractors do.

That is all Hollywood and should not be equated in any way, shape or form to a chiropractic adjustment.

So what is it that really makes the popping noise when you have your neck adjusted?

Well, there are a few things that account for the noise.

If you have tight neck muscles where there may be some adhesions in the muscle tissue, these will release as the neck is adjusted & will make a popping noise. This is a good thing because adhesions will eventually turn into scar tissue – a bad thing.

There may also be adhesions in the ligaments in your neck. Ligaments attach bones to bones and hold them together. Adhesions in ligaments can result from trauma & misaligned vertebra. This is a bad thing. During an adjustment, the associated ligaments will stretch slightly & any adhesions will release & make a popping noise. This is a good thing.

And , during an adjustment there is the movement of gases within the fluid which is inside the joint capsule. This movement of fluid can also make a popping noise similar in principle to when you open a bottle of pop. This is in no way injurious to your spine.

And, do not forget that your ear is right next to your neck.

So, manual neck adjustments will sound ‘loud’ compared to having manual adjustments elsewhere in your spine that are further away from your ears.

A skilled chiropractor first of all would not manually adjust your neck (especially the first time) without explaining to you exactly what is going to happen.

You should be totally informed & prepared so that there are no surprises.

And a skilled chiropractor who adjusts manually will make it quick & comfortable. It is over before a blink of an eye & it should not cause discomfort in any way.  There may be some discomfort  if you are having acute neck pain but sometimes you have to do what you have to do in order to help the patient heal.

There are far worse painful things that we subject ourselves to.

“Ok, fine” you say. “But I have heard neck adjustments can cause you to have a stroke.”

Well, there is a risk to any procedure performed on the human body. It is estimated that 1 in 1 million neck adjustments can result in a stroke.

Let me tell you this… I have been in practice for over 25 years, & everybody who walked into my office has walked out of my office just fine.

And, there have been many people who crawled into my office & have walked out just fine.

There have only been 3 cases of stroke that I am aware of as a result of a chiropractic adjustment.

So, let’s put this into perspective.

A Maclean’s article a few years back stated that medical error accounts for 40,000 deaths per year in Canada.

Use your deductive reasoning here.

Who do you think has the better safety record?

”Why Would I Need My Neck Adjusted Anyway?”

Well, there are a few good reasons.

To keep good posture so that your neck joints do not degenerate & become arthritic. Good posture will also keep your spinal discs from decaying & the boney tissue that makes up your vertebrae from eroding. This is called osteoarthritis of the spine & is quite preventable. Nobody needs to have osteoarthritis in their spine. This can cause you to have migraines, neck pain & stiffness, neck/shoulder/arm pain, sinus pain & headaches for starters. And good neck posture will prevent your spinal cord from stretching . This is the biggest benefit of having your neck adjusted.

Tension on the spinal cord in your neck will have numerous adverse effects on your health. Too many to list here, but believe me when I tell you this is the last thing you would want for yourself & your kids.

All I can say is “DANGER”!

If you want to know more about spinal cord tension, make an appointment to come in & we’ll talk.

So now you are brave enough to try a manual neck adjustment & it is still just not for you.

And that’s ok, not everything is for everyone.

But do not worry.

There are other ways of adjusting the neck.

Not as effective in my opinion, but will still be of a benefit to you.

There is instrument adjusting (activator, pro-adjuster), there is drop-table adjusting where the chiropractic adjustment table assists with the adjustment ,& there is light-touch & soft-tissue adjustment (active release therapy) as well.

None of these involve a manual move of the vertebra with an accompanying popping sound.

In our office we do use these techniques (except pro-adjuster) on new-borns, children & those adults where manual adjusting would not be appropriate by choice or otherwise.

“Children & Newborns?”

“ Yikes!

Why would they need adjustments?”

Understand this.

I rarely see a spinal problem in adults that doesn’t have childhood origins.

Refer back to the part of this article that discusses the amount of force one can be subjected to during birth.

And you know as well as I do that during your childhood is when you have the most & biggest falls, bumps & bruises.

Do not for one minute think that these are inconsequential!

You have to take care of your spine right from day 1.

It is absolutely essential towards your health. If you take really good care of your teeth or your automobile, why would you not take care of your spine?

Ask yourself this … what can be replaced & what cannot?

So now you know the truth about neck adjustments – what they are, why they are necessary & that chiropractors DO NOT crack your neck or any part of your body for that matter.

Keep in mind that the only person that you should trust about chiropractic advice is a chiropractor.

Not your neighbours or friends or the newspaper or your family doc.

Even though these sources may be well-intentioned, they are often times mis-informed.

Remember ,I am always here to answer your questions or help in any way that I can.

Dr Brad/Life Chiropractic Centre


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