Snap, Crackle, Pop! Why That “Crack in Your Back” Feels (and sounds) So Good!

Laurel,MD Chiropractor


Over the past few years, social media has been inundated by chiropractic “crack videos” that showcase the reliving sound of a major “pop” during an adjustment. In fact, “Chiropractic Tik-Tok” featuring big adjustments (and big sounds) is skyrocketing in popularity.


While some people love hearing the sounds that come from other people’s adjustments, there are other people, completely new to chiropractic adjustments who are apprehensive about the noises that happen during their adjustment.


But why are so many social media users so addicted to watching these loud adjustments? And what is that big “cracking” sound that so many people love hearing?


Well, we are happy to clear a few things up and talk through some of the most frequently asked questions we get about all of the delightful sounds that come with a chiropractic adjustment!


Let’s Start With The Spine


The spine is the literal backbone of chiropractic, so before you can understand the sounds that come with an adjustment, you need to understand the structure of the spine. The spine is made up of three major components: the spinal cord, the meninges and the spinal column.


The spinal cord is an extremely important collection of nerves that connect the brain to all of the other nerves in the body. These nerves are protected by membranes called the meninges. Then finally, there is the spinal column, which is made up of 33 small bones, also called vertebra, that are stacked around the spinal cord to help protect it and to provide proper range-of-motion.


In between every vertebra in the spine, there are small, soft discs that provide more cushion between the bones, allow for more movement and provide space for your spinal nerves to move outside the column.


The spine is a truly amazing structure and one that helps facilitate virtually every function in the body. When the vertebrae in your back are out of line of impeding on the nerves in your spinal column, it not only causes pain and discomfort, but it can also prevent those nerves from sending the necessary messages to the brain and throughout the body.


This is where adjustments comes in.


What is the Chiropractic Adjustment—and Why is It So Loud?


A chiropractic adjustment will help fix what are known as subluxations in the spine. Subluxations happen when those spinal joints are shifted out of their normal alignment from stress, trauma or chemical imbalances.


The adjustment is a specific, hands-on manipulation of the spine that helps safely and gently move those joints back into place. They reduce pressure on the nerves, easing the flow of communication between the nervous system and the rest of the body.


Sometimes, these adjustments are completely silent, and other times, they can come with a huge cracking or popping noise. It can sometimes sound fairly intense, but there is no need to worry! Nothing is cracking, breaking, or popping out of place.


This noise is actually because of a Latin medical term called crepitus. There are two main reasons why this noise can happen.


  1. When your back is adjusted, the soft facet joints on the outer edge of your vertebrae stretch. This allows the synovial fluid inside that space and relives pressure on those squishy facet joints. When this pressure is released, the fluid turns into gas and makes that satisfying noise.
  2. Some experts believe the noise all has to do with a different type of gas and pressure and believe that oxygen and nitrogen can actually build up in the spaces between the joints over time, particularly in those experiencing joint dysfunctions. When these joints are moved or stretched, they release gas to give you that familiar “popping” noise.


If a sound happens or doesn’t happen—it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong with the adjustment. More often than not, the noise happens, but if you don’t hear a noise, it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong or that the adjustment didn’t “work.”


And Why Does it Feel So Good?


While some people find that the sound of an adjustment is more than satisfying, the adjustment also just feels good as well. After all, when your joints move and release, the body also releases endorphins as well. These chemicals are released by the body to manage pain and help you feel better and happier.


But overall, the adjustment will feel good because it is a good for you. So, while the adjustment is so much more about your overall health and helping your body to naturally heal itself—it still feels and sounds great in the moment as well!


If you have questions about what an adjustment looks or sounds like, or any questions, make sure to contact our Laurel, MD office here with questions. Or visit our social media page to see first-hand what an adjustment looks (and sounds) like.

Dr. Terence P. McAuliffe Jr. Family Chiropractor at McAuliffe Chiropractic Office

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