Neck Cracking Done By Chiropractors: What to Expect

Chiropractors Neck Cracking

Have you ever heard about Chiropractors cracking necks and wondered what they were doing? You’re not alone. Chances are that somebody has been in your same shoes, wondering the same thing. It’s okay to be curious!

Neck cracking is a form of therapy performed by chiropractors on patients who suffer from chronic pain in their necks or upper back.

The goal of this treatment is to release pressure on nerve roots that surround the spinal cord and reduce inflammation around joints and discs to relieve pain.

While your curiosity about neck manipulation peaks we will discuss what happens during a neck crack, the benefits of doing it, and who should speak with a chiropractor before they avail a neck adjustment.

Beard Family Chiropractic

What happens during neck cracking?

Neck cracking is a type of joint popping. It happens when the muscles and ligaments in your neck are stretched or pulled too far producing a snapping sound.

When this happens, you may hear a popping sound, feel some pain, or get relief from the tension that was built up in your neck.

The goal of this manipulation is to address malposition or misalignment of the cervical vertebrae.

Why is there a loud popping sound when a chiropractor cracks the joint in the neck?

There are three why there is a popping sound while your neck is being adjusted.

1. Your joints make a snapping or popping noise when they move beyond their normal range of motion.

If the joints move just a little bit they will make slight popping or grinding sounds, but if they move further you may hear a loud pop as the joint realigns itself.

2. Release of gases that were once trapped between joints.

The popping noise you hear is caused by the release of air, gas bubbles or other substances that were once trapped inside your joints.

When chiropractors adjust your neck they may hit ligaments or muscles, causing them to release gases that have accumulated in your joints. Releasing this gas reduces pain and improves the alignment of your spine.

3. The joint itself makes noise when it pops back into place.

When the joint locks in place, the ligaments that hold and stabilize the joint will make a snapping noise. This happens whenever any of the body’s joints lock in place and stay there.

Also, if your joints are out of alignment that can cause movement restrictions. So when the joint is put back into its proper position, your muscles can relax and release the tension they built up.

Does it hurt when your chiropractor cracks your neck?

In theory, it sounds painful.

Yet, there are some instances where people do not feel pain at all during a neck crack. While many people will feel pain or mild discomfort, others may not feel anything at all.

Usually, the patient will have a sense of relief after their neck has been cracked and they are able to experience some temporary lessening in discomfort levels as well!

How do I know if my neck is being properly adjusted by a chiropractor?

When a Conway chiropractor performs a neck adjustment, he or she will use the precise movement of the thrust, making sure that you are not moved three inches but only a fraction of an inch.

Chiropractors learn unique adjustments from their instructors as part of their continuing education throughout the years. Each adjustment is performed with the intent to bring your body back into alignment and to optimize your health and wellness.

In addition to appropriate adjustment techniques, most chiropractors today use X-ray visualization as a tool to see if there is an underlying problem causing the pain.

The patient must be aware that it is okay to ask questions about their neck pain and it is important for them to understand how they got their pain in the first place and what they can do if they feel it coming back.

What are the benefits of neck cracking?

Chiropractic care can help to relieve many different types of pain in the body, including: 

It has also been used to relieve other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and asthma.

It also can help to improve the range of motion and strength in the body.

While there are a lot of benefits to this procedure, there are also risks that you need to know.

What are the risks of chiropractic neck adjustments?

Like any medical procedure, there are always risks involved with chiropractic adjustments. The main risks of chiropractic neck adjustments are: 

  • Herniation or a bone fracture (which requires emergency care and can result in paralysis) 
  • Slipping vertebral discs (which can also be quite painful and might require back surgery) 
  • Risk of stroke caused by a tear in the middle meningeal artery (the branch of the carotid artery closest to the skull) 
  • Damage to vertebral arteries if they are not properly aligned during an adjustment, which may lead to injury, arthritis and other conditions that cause inflammation in the joints around your spine 
  • In rare cases, an infection at the site of the adjustment may cause symptoms similar to meningitis. 

Why do seeking help from chiropractors reduce the harmful risks of neck cracking?

During any chiropractic adjustment, your chiropractor is going to do a thorough analysis of the spine and cervical joint.

Your zygapophyseal joint (where the lower end of your vertebrae connects to your skull) is a vital area for proper spinal function. 

Without this joint in place, your vertebrae may rub against each other and cause pain or deformity. 

Your doctor of chiropractic will explain what is going on in your body and why the neck crack is recommended, as well as educate you on ways to avoid your condition in the future.

Conway Family chiropractic

Who should speak with a chiropractor before they avail a neck manipulation?

While most chiropractors are very knowledgeable of the correct procedures to perform on a patient, there are always exceptions. 

You should always speak with a chiropractor before utilizing neck cracking as a pain-relieving treatment, especially if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Pregnancy. Your chiropractor may not be aware that your pregnancy may change your hormones and require you to adjust differently than usual. 
  • Has had MRIs or x-rays done during the last one to six months. Without this information, the chiropractor may not be able to adjust you properly.
  • Has had surgery in the last six months. You may need an adjustment that is specific to your situation or place special attention on your spinal muscles and bones. 
  • Has been treated at a chiropractic clinic within 30 days of treating elsewhere (like doctor’s office, physical therapy, or massage therapy). Your chiropractor needs to know about any previous adjustments you have had performed at other locations. 


It is best to have a chiropractor do the adjustment who specializes in treating neck pain symptoms and knows how much pressure should be applied.

It’s also important for you as patient, that any previous treatments or adjustments are taken into account by your doctor prior treatment begins.

If you have any doubts about your new neck cracking experience, it’s always best to ask questions from your chiropractor.

Even if you have had a prior treatment, that knowledge does not mean your doctor will remember how he treated you before. It is best to speak with your doctor and go over the next steps that he is going to take in treating your neck pain. 

Chiropractors are human too, and they can overlook certain details when they are performing a treatment on patients.

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