Cracking and chiropractors go hand in hand. This alone puts many people off visiting a chiropractor because they think that all chiros do is crack bones. While it is true through manual manipulations, cracking is often heard, this isn’t the be all and end all of the treatment. And cracking isn’t what many people think it is anyway, as I’ll show later in this post.
So first things first, what are we hoping to achieve with chiropractic care?
The ultimate goal is to get you out of pain. Pain starts by the joints being compressed and then becoming dysfunctional. This could happen through injury, trauma or simply poor posture. As the joint compresses, it becomes dysfunctional, muscles around it react and tighten, scar tissue builds up as friction occurs which results in inflammation and pain. The goal of chiropractic care is to loosen the joints and enable proper range of motion which ultimately lessens inflammation and pain.
One way of doing this is through chiropractic adjustments where we use our hands to directly manipulate joints to help break up this scar tissue and get range of motion happening again. In this treatment, joints may “crack” and pressure is eased and you feel freer again. Some patients don’t like being cracked though, and so we use other techniques to achieve the same goal. These include:
- Adjusting table
- Soft tissue manipulation
- Trigger point
- Adjusting instruments
All the above can help to relieve pressure on the painful area and all do this without cracking one joint!
But is cracking joints such a big deal anyway?
Firstly, we need to explain that no joints are being cracked. There is no bone on bone happening as you might imagine. All the cracking or popping sound is gases that form in the liquid area between the joints being compressed quickly in the manipulation action and basically popping. So all that popping sound is is little gas bubbles that are formed are being popped under high pressure. Just like when you pop a balloon, the gases between your joints are popped.
I came across this cool video showing exactly what it’s like when a joint is compressed. It was taken under an MRI and you can see that the bones are no where near one another when the crack occurs.
So for all patients who have been fearful about being cracked, what do you think now? Would you consider being cracked in the future now you’ve seen what happens?
Either way, it doesn’t matter because we can continue using the alternative methods for helping you out of pain. The result is still the same regardless of which way you go.
Dr Ray Marquez DC
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