Don’t Crack Your Own Neck, Part 1March 22, 2013 • By John Olsen
Self-manipulation is the term used for cracking, or popping, one’s own neck or back.
Because this is such a common practice, the question regarding the safety of self-manipulation is often brought up in our office.
In part 1 of this article, we will discuss the first of the following three things regarding self-manipulation: 1) Is it safe? 2) Is it useful? 3) Is it a sign of a deeper problem?
Is self-manipulation safe?
The most common arguments against self-manipulation are that one could fracture (break) a bone, cause a stroke, or cause arthritis.
Honestly, in my 8 years of practice, I am not aware of any particular case where someone has either broken a vertebral bone or caused themselves to have a stroke has a result of self-manipulation. That’s not to say that it couldn’t happen, but it’s highly unlikely. As far as causing arthritis, the clinical literature is not very clear. I’m doubtful that the act of self-manipulation, in and of itself, causes arthritis. Rather, the constant urge to self manipulate is indicative of a condition that can lead to arthritis. More on that later.
The safety hazards of self-manipulation are much more long-term, and that leads us to the second question…which we’ll discuss next time. If at any time you need an answer to a question about your musculoskeletal system, please feel free to call our office at 615-650-6533.