Should I crack my knuckles or neck or back myself?

I hear this question at the clinic all the time!  Many people experience relief by “cracking” themselves and if you do not partake in this practice I am sure you know a friend or family member who does.  This week I had a patient ask if it is okay if they get their child to walk on their back.  I have also had patients ask me if it is okay if they get their spouse to “crack” their back by lifting them up in awkward positions or pushing down on them while lying face down.  Growing up, my parents would get upset with my sister cracking her knuckles and they would say that this would cause arthritis or damage to her hands. Here are my thoughts on all of this…..

Is it safe to “crack” my own neck or back?  Is it okay if my spouse or friend “crack” my back or to have my child walk on my back?…. First off, “cracking your own back” and “having your back adjusted by a chiropractor” are two very different things.  Cracking your back requires no precision, it is not specific and it may or may not “move” the joint that is actually locked up and causing the tension that you feel.  In general, it will likely “crack” a joint above or below the problem area and despite hearing a “pop” which is accompanied by release of endorphins (feel good chemicals in our body) it is not correcting the issue.  Adjusting your back requires training in palpation (chiropractors receive years of training) which allows us to identify the restricted joint.  Once the problem area is identified the chiropractor can apply the correct amount of force to the exact area (again, this requires years of training to perfect this).  The amount of force used in the adjustment is determined by the age of the person, their sex, medical history (osteoporosis? heart issues?), weight and height.  So my question for you is….would you prefer to have someone with no training or education on manipulation and adjusting techniques “crack” your back or a person with a Doctorate, 8 years of education with 4 years dedicated to practising and learning the proper force, technique and skills necessary to adjust various areas of the spine and extremities?

Will I get arthritis if I crack my knuckles?…. believe it or not a California doctor named Donald Unger won a Nobel prize a few years ago for testing this.  He cracked the knuckle of his one hand at least twice a day for 50 years and did not crack the other.  His conclusion: no definitive changes or increased arthritis was found in the knuckle that was cracked.  (Arthritis and Rheumatism, Vol. 41, No. 5, in 1998).

I will keep this post short and sweet, I hope that you learned something from this and please feel free to contact the office if you have any further questions –  Dr. Ryan Broddick

Broddick #Chiropractic and #Acupuncture is a pain relief and wellness clinic located at 62 Stanley Street, Ayr, Ontario serving #Ayr #Paris #Drumbo #GlenMorris #Plattsville #Princeton #Cambridge #Kitchener #Waterloo #Brantford #Ontario and surrounding areas.  We offer a number of cutting edge treatment options so please look through our services and products to see how we may be able to help you!  For updated hours, contests, promotions and health information please visit the clinic Facebook and Twitter pages.


Comments (11)

  1. This was great! Good info to have in the back of your mind when you feel the urge to “crack” and definitely the best reasons to see a Chiropractor and not try to do it yourself.

  2. Great information Dr. Broddick. There is so much that goes into what we as chiropractors do. We have to know which joints are actually subluxated and to adjust it know the exact angle of the joint to properly correct and adjust it. Self manipulating can’t get the correct direction of force plus they dont know what underlying problems there might be like osteoarthritis, disc problems, ligament instability or more. They can then cause more harm than good. A chiropractor does a thorough evaluation first to investigate these problems.

  3. Thanks for the great information. There is so much uncertainty among the public as to what the cracking noise actually is. People must understand that cracking there back on their own is not a good thing. This is an easy to understand explanation I will make sure to share it with my patients

  4. Dinesh Anmolsingh

    Wow! I am soo happy you posted this. My kids do this all the time. Dr. Broddick is the best. Thanks for the info!!!

  5. we get this questoin all the time, great work ! thanks
    if your in the oakville are and need an oakville chiropractor let us know. we do oakville physiotherapy too !

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