One of the things that just about everybody has heard about when it comes to Chiropractors is that when one gets an adjustment, there’s a cracking sound. And this is just about always true. There can be popping or cracking sounds when adjusting the back or the neck.

Why Does Your Neck Crack During An Adjustment?

It all has to do with the lubricating fluid between your joints. It’s called synovial fluid and it’s found between your joints to protect the articular cartridge of the joint during movement. It has the consistency of an egg yolk and contains nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Bubbles of carbon dioxide form in the synovial fluid. When the joint is released during an adjustment (or, for example, when you crack your knuckles) the bubbles of nitrogen and carbon dioxide pop (or cavitate) producing the cracking sound.

Is It Good For Me?

In general, there’s nothing harmful to worry about when cavitating a joint (which produces the cracking sound). If the sound is accompanied with pain, something went wrong. If you’re at home and adjusting your neck when this happens, seek help quickly.

What If I Get Adjusted And Don’t Hear the Noise?

The important part of the adjustment is to release the joint. Sometimes when a joint is moved there are no large bubbles of nitrogen or carbon dioxide to cavitate. Without those bubbles, there’s no noise. If you get adjusted on a specific joint and don’t hear a noise, don’t worry! Your joints can still move without the sound.

Is the Sound Addicting?

Hearing the noise when being adjusted can come to be expected. But what patients often experience is the endorphin rush that comes from stimulating the neural pathways during an adjustment. The 1-2 combination of hearing a noise and feeling the endorphin rush can make it seem like adjustments only work when there’s cavitation in the joint. But this just isn’t true. The neural pathways are stimulated independently of the joint cavitation, allowing one to feel better during an adjustment with or without the cracking sound.