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Cracking your neck—or any part of your spine—may seem like an easy way to relieve tension, but it can actually cause more harm than good. Once you understand the potential risks and benefits of cracking your neck, you can decide for yourself if the potential advantages are worth the danger.
Stretching or cracking your neck is not completely off-limits. In fact, a growing body of research suggests that certain types of neck manipulation may help reduce the risk of headaches and other negative effects associated with a prolonged head tilt. But remember: Any time you crack your neck, you are putting yourself at risk for injury. Learn how and when it’s safe to crack your neck—and when it’s better to steer clear.
What Happens When You Crack Your Neck
When you crack your neck, you cause the joint to move beyond its normal range of motion. The pressure inside the discs becomes uneven, which causes a popping or cracking sound. This temporarily reduces the stress on your spine and the associated muscles around it, which is why you feel some relief.
Cracking your neck may also cause the ligaments in your spine to stretch, which could possibly lead to more mobility. Together, these are the reasons why people try to crack their necks. It often feels like the fastest and only way to address pain and discomfort. However, there are risks to doing this repeatedly.
What Are the Benefits of Neck Cracking?
The benefits of neck cracking are numerous. For starters, it can help relieve neck and upper back stiffness. It can also help align the spine and improve the range of motion in the joints. Additionally, neck cracking can release endorphins, which are natural painkillers produced by the body.
Chiropractic care is a popular alternative to traditional medicine that focuses on treating the musculoskeletal system, including the spine. Chiropractors use a variety of techniques to adjust the spine, including neck cracking. While neck cracking is often safe when done by a professional chiropractor, some people may experience minor discomfort or side effects afterward.
How Risky is it to Crack Your Neck?
Cracking your neck can be risky if you do it too hard or if you move your neck too suddenly. This can cause the ligaments in your neck to become unstable and the joints to become misaligned. A misaligned disc poses a risk to the muscles around them, as well as your spinal cord. It can also be painful enough to make you seek immediate medical attention.
Additionally, cracking your neck can damage the blood vessels and lead to blood clotting. If you have osteoarthritis in your neck, cracking your neck can also make the condition worse.
There is a risk of damaging muscles and ligaments, which can cause them to tear in extreme cases. This is highly painful and may require medical attention to fix. There is also the risk of damaging your spinal discs.
When you crack your neck, you’re actually putting your joints out of alignment and causing instability in your neck. This can lead to stiffness and a loss of range of motion. If you want to keep your neck healthy and properly aligned, be sure to see a chiropractor or doctor to treat underlying causes.
Injury Risk Factors
Factors that increase the risk of injury to the head include rapid movements, fatigue, high blood pressure, a history of brain injury or head trauma, and even sleep apnea. If you experience dizziness or ear ringing as a result of this activity, it is important to consult with your doctor before continuing. These are symptoms of nerve injuries and head trauma that should be investigated right away.
There is the potential to damage the spinal cord or push a disc out of alignment. These are serious conditions that need immediate medical attention. As with all injuries, the risk factors increase with age and include osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, and pre-existing neck injury. Anyone with previous damage to the neck or spine should avoid cracking unless done by a trained professional. Previous damage can weaken bones and lead to a higher chance of chipping or cracking a disc.
Search for Underlying Causes of Cracking Your Neck
Like other joints, it is usually okay to crack your neck. However, you must take care to do it in the right way. Otherwise, you risk damaging your spine and neck in ways that can be both painful and require significantly more treatment to resolve.
If you find yourself cracking your neck often, then you should have it assessed by a doctor. It could be a sign that you are having back or neck problems. Call Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery at (866)-646-5090 to schedule an appointment.