We’ve all done it. Tried to get rid of that “crick” in our neck with a quick neck roll and shoulder shrug. Or attempted to ease the ache in our back with an “over the top” stretch. But are these techniques doing more harm than good?
"Cracking" or self-manipulating the spine, whether it's the back or neck, is a common practice among many individuals. Here are eight reasons why it's generally not recommended:
- Risk of Injury: The neck, in particular, contains vital structures like arteries, nerves, and the spinal cord. Applying force can potentially injure these structures. One of the most concerning is the vertebral artery which, if damaged, can lead to a stroke.
- Underlying Cause is Not Addressed: When individuals feel the need to crack their back or neck, it may be due to muscle imbalances, poor posture, or other underlying issues. Cracking might provide temporary relief, but it does not address the root cause. It's essential to get a professional evaluation to understand and treat the root problem.
- Hyper-mobility: Constantly self-manipulating the spine can lead to ligamentous laxity and result in hyper-mobility of the joints. This can make the spine more unstable and increase the risk of common injuries.
- Potential for Increased Pain: While some may feel immediate relief after cracking, others might experience increased pain due to the sudden movement or strain on the surrounding muscles and ligaments. This could eventually lead to the need for Interventional Pain Management.
- Release of Gas, not "Realignment": The cracking sound is due to the release of gas (mainly nitrogen) from the synovial fluid inside the joint. It's not bones going back into place or any significant therapeutic alignment. Over time, frequent cracking may reduce the joint's capability to produce this sound, leading individuals to apply more force for the same sensation, increasing the risk of injury.
- Addictive Nature: Some individuals become habitual "crackers" and feel the urge to do it repeatedly for the perceived relief it offers. This can further exacerbate potential issues associated with hyper-mobility and increase dependency on the act for comfort.
- Professional Training: Chiropractors and some other medical professionals are trained to manipulate the spine in a controlled manner, taking into account the patient's medical history and physical exam findings. Self-manipulation lacks this precision and understanding.
- Masking Other Medical Conditions: Regularly cracking one's neck or back might mask underlying medical or chronic pain conditions. It could be a sign of arthritis, disc problems, or other spinal issues that need medical attention.
While occasionally cracking one's neck or back might not cause immediate harm, regularly doing so, especially without understanding the underlying cause of the discomfort or tightness, can be risky. Rather than self-treat, it's always good policy to seek guidance from a healthcare professional, like those at LeHeal Biogenix, where your health and well-being are top priorities. Visit us today for more information about how we can assist your healing process.