You may have the habit of cracking your joints. You may crack your fingers, toes and knuckles quite often. Most of us crack our knuckles and fingers to relieve stress building up in these points. But is it safe to crack your neck? Get the answer for this, and get to know how to crack your neck.
While you crack your neck or joints, it makes way for stretching the areas surrounding your neck. These immediately adjoining areas may have fluids in them. So when your crack your neck, these fluids may exert lesser pressure on the areas near your neck. But, how do you get a popping sound when you crack? When you crack, the pressure exerted on the fluids drops. Such drop in pressure may convert them into gas. The conversion process widely believed to be a reason behind the popping sound.
What happens when you crack your neck?
Both the sides of your neck have joints known as facet. These facet joints get stretched when you crack. This action leads to a pressure drop. A gas is formed, which makes a popping sound. The whole activity makes you feel as if you have relaxed your neck and the surrounding tissues. Also, there is another belief which claims, the sound is caused by a bubble emerging off your joints while your crack.
Making of endorphin
A few biochemical studies reveal endorphins are produced as you crack your neck. These are chemical substances secreted by your pituitary glands to help arrest pain. So, when you crack your neck, these endorphins show up in the cracked spot and make you feel relieved from pain. Once your pain subsides, it makes feel positive and relaxed.
Placebo effect of neck cracking
Many of us may relate cracking a joint to bring relief and thus release pressure built-up in it. But, if you wish to know whether neck cracking is safe for you, talk to your chiropractor or physician. Medical professionals can advise if neck cracking is safe for you and how to do it properly.
Neck cracking is also known to produce a placebo effect. This occurs when you may feel that you have released pressure built-up by hearing a cracking sound coming off your neck. Studies reveal that a positive feeling often accompanies when people hear a popping sound from their neck. Studies have further validated that positive effect does seem to emerge even when there is no apparent release of pressure.
Is neck cracking safe for you?
Neck cracking can become harmful especially when you do it frequently and if you do not crack it properly or with greater force. Cracking your neck with great force can stress the nerves. Once stressed or pinched, these nerves may make your neck to stiffen. As a result, you will find it very painful to move your neck. Apart from your nerves, muscles in your neck may also undergo a sizeable level of stress. A muscle stress often stresses the joint – in this case, your neck.
You are advised not to yield to the desire of cracking your neck often. But, you may be tempted to crack it when you have used your neck more. If you have yielded to the temptation of cracking your neck often, you run the risk of needlessly stretching your muscles. Over a period of time, these muscles may get stretched and may lose their elastic properties – i.e., they may remain stretched forever. Clinical sciences call this perpetual condition as instability. People with such a condition are known to run risks of being affected by osteoarthritis.
You are advised to know that your neck houses a lot of vital blood vessels. In a few instances, cracking your neck violently or forcefully may lead to puncturing some of these essential blood vessels. In some rare instances, neck cracking done forcefully has resulted in clotting of blood. It is a potentially fatal condition, as it can stop flow of blood to your essential organs such as brain, etc.
When to seek medical care?
While cracking your neck, if you do not experience any pain – either recurring or constant, care from a medical specialist is not recommended. However, you may need to align the joints of your neck if you are not satisfied with cracking your neck. Being dissatisfied with cracking may make you to crack your neck more often than required. An alignment of the joints surrounding your neck may make the urge to crack it to come down.
You are advised to meet your chiropractor or your physician if you are under constant pain in the neck area or if moving your neck becomes an arduous activity, or if you observe an inflammation in your neck.
Your chiropractor may realign your joint so that you do not feel the need to relieve pressure. This means, the desire to crack your neck more often is lessened. You may also be advised to bring some changes to your lifestyle. Commonly recommended lifestyle changes include performing regular work-outs and shedding extra weight. Your chiropractor may also help you to apply cold and heat compresses onto your neck. These home remedies are found to be effective in relieving the build-up of pressure in your neck.
Before consulting with your chiropractor, check with your insurance for the cost of care taken from such a specialist. You may choose your specialist based on the terms of coverage for such medical treatment.
In general, neck cracking is safe if it is done properly and also not too very regularly. This activity gives you a positive feeling of having relaxed and also having provided relief to the build-up of pressure. The problem comes only when you do it more frequently than what is needed. If you have chronic pain in your neck or if you are finding it difficult to rotate, you may develop a headache, numbness of your hands, redness, etc. In some cases, people have also experienced muscular spasms.
Your stress levels may also play a role in cramping your muscles around your neck. If you let these stresses to show up more often, the muscles in your neck region may undergo a spasm. It may also be surprising to you to know that not drinking adequate quantity of water can also cause neck problems and spasms. The medical team may advise you to consume needful quantities of water to have no stress in your neck.
Regardless of the causes of muscular spams in your neck, if you have the above symptoms- it is time to see a doctor or a chiropractor. Your chiropractor or the treating physician will help you with realigning the muscles, nerves and tissues (such as ligaments) adjoining your neck. These medical specialists may also correct your posture. It includes correcting how you walk, sit or stoop. You may also be advised to sleep properly on an even surface. Depending on your medical condition, a few non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may also be administered. These drugs help by offering relief to inflammation as well as pain in your neck. Medical specialists may also prescribe muscle relaxants and a massage.