Don’t Crack Your Own Neck, Part 3April 1, 2013 • By John Olsen
Earlier, in part 2 of this series, we discussed the second of the 3 issues regarding self-manipulation of your spine: 1) Is it safe? 2) Is it useful? 3) Is it a sign of a deeper problem? Finally, we’re going to talk about the bigger picture regarding cracking your own neck and back.
Is the need to self-manipulate the neck or back indicative of a deeper problem?
Yes. As explained earlier, we often develop abnormal motion patterns in the spine, which cause some spinal joints to become too tight, and some joints to become too loose.
As for the loose (hypermobile) joints, this causes unconscious distress to your body. When your brain senses that there is too much slack in a joint that is so close to your spinal nerves, it will take measures to stabilize that joint. At first, these measures are limited to inflammation and muscle spasm. If not addressed soon enough, the spinal bones will actually change shape and begin to lock together to stabilize the joint. This is known as degenerative joint disease. Degenerative joint disease can be quite painful and can greatly limit your ability to do the things you need to do and want to do.
Tight (hypomobile) joints can be adjusted/manipulated by a qualified chiropractor or osteopath. Restoring normal motion to hypomobile joints allows hypermobile joints to “rest,” in that they do not have to move so much to maintain your normal activities.
In summary, self -manipulation will probably not cause immediate harm. Long-term self-manipulation can cause harm by further moving joints that move too much already. A qualified chiropractic or osteopathic physician can recondition the spinal bones to move normally, usually eliminating the urge to self-manipulate in the first place.