Spine Care

Self Cracking and Self-Popping The Spine


Self-cracking and popping the spine can feel good, but should it be done without professional/chiropractic assistance? We’ve all done it, getting up from bed or the couch, lean back, and waiting for the sound of the spine cracking/popping. Some even have a friend help pop the spine to get that satisfying feeling. There are proper stretching techniques to follow, but cracking the spine without professional help is not recommended as it could lead to problems or worsen any underlying spinal issues.


Self-cracking and popping refer to the sounds that the neck or back makes with certain movements. The joints in the spine contain fluid and gas. Stretches can create cracking popping sounds as different pressures are exerted when the body moves. The sound, known as joint cavitation, is the normal exchange of gases like oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide around the joints.

Spaces form in the synovial fluid that surrounds the joints. These spaces make an audible sound when the pressure changes/cavitation, causing the gases to be released. The gases are naturally present in the body. A doctor of chiropractic mobilizes the joints very carefully through adjustments using their hands or specific instruments to increase the spine’s range of motion and stability. When adjustments and manipulations are not performed by a professional, problems can happen, that can include:

  • Loss of strength
  • Soft tissue swelling
  • Muscle spasms

Injuries are prevented when it’s done properly and safely, and any issues like swelling and tightness around the neck and spine are also avoided.

Movements and Adjustments

Self-cracking performed incorrectly can lead to excessive force bringing the joints to excessive ranges of motion that can potentially cause injury. Individuals must be careful even when self-cracking, as the spine can make sounds for other reasons.

  • Age-related arthritis can generate a crunching type of sound when moving, known as crepitus.
  • A ligament or tendon can rub over a bone or spur, creating different sounds.
  • These sounds are usually not problematic, but when they are consistent with certain movements, they could cause inflammation and/or pain.

Chiropractic Professional Adjustments

Most individuals seek chiropractic help primarily for problems like pain, tightness, and weakness. Individuals can voluntarily see a chiropractor or be referred to one by a different doctor. Doctors routinely work with chiropractors to help patients recover from musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. A chiropractor performs manipulations in a safe, controlled manner. They are familiar with the sounds the joints make and know they are safe. They usually have a multidisciplinary team that is involved in the management of various musculoskeletal conditions.

Why chiropractic care is so helpful?

All doctors of chiropractic are trained to diagnose and treat neuro-musculoskeletal conditions. During the diagnosis, the chiropractor will review the individual’s medical history and conduct a physical exam to determine the treatment plan best for the individual and their injury or condition. Many are now flocking to chiropractic care to avoid taking pain medications. Scientific evidence supports the health benefits of adjustments for various types of musculoskeletal pain, as well as to improve function and mobility.

Working with a chiropractor and other health professionals, like orthopedic specialists and physical therapists, is also recommended. They can help decrease pain and provide increased mobility and stability. If you constantly need to self-crack the back or have other issues with pain and tightness, talk with a doctor to see if chiropractic adjustments and manipulation will help. This will ensure the right diagnosis and help create the optimal treatment plan to develop a stronger, healthier body.

Body Composition

Relationship between the muscles and the immune system

Increasing muscle mass is recommended to improve body composition and increase immune system function. Research shows senior adults with a higher skeletal muscle mass have more immune cells in the blood. This indicates that the muscles and the immune system are connected. When working out, myokines or hormone-type proteins are released that strengthen the immune system to help protect and fight diseases. Regular exercise with moderate intensity increases the release of T lymphocytes/T cells, improving the body’s immunity. Regular exercise also helps reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases like:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Different types of cancer
  • Cardiovascular diseases

Improved body composition with regular exercise and a well-balanced diet helps maintain a healthy proportion of muscle and fat mass. The more developed the body’s muscle mass strengthens the immune system and lowers the risk of diseases and various health conditions.


“The audible release associated with joint manipulation.” Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. MarApril 1995. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7790795/#:~:text=Data%20synthesis%3A%20The%20audible%20release,released%20into%20the%20joint%20cavity.

“The Prevalence, Patterns, and Predictors of Chiropractic Use Among US Adults: Results From the 2012 National Health Interview Survey.” Spine. Dec 2017. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28459779/

“Chiropractic Use in the Medicare Population: Prevalence, Patterns, and Associations With 1-Year Changes in Health and Satisfaction With Care.” Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. Oct 2014. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0161475414001444

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Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Self Cracking and Self-Popping The Spine" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

Blog Information & Scope Discussions

Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, acupuncture, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and directly or indirectly support our clinical scope of practice.*

Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

We are here to help you and your family.


Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
Texas DC License # TX5807, New Mexico DC License # NM-DC2182

Licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN*) in Florida
Florida License RN License # RN9617241 (Control No. 3558029)
Compact Status: Multi-State License: Authorized to Practice in 40 States*

Presently Matriculated: ICHS: MSN* FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner Program)

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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