The benefits of spinal adjustment from a licensed chiropractor are well documented, but some people might prefer to take a do-it-yourself approach to chiropractic care by cracking their own necks and backs. While these so-called “self-adjustments” may produce desirable effects in the short term, they often do not address the underlying problem, and in fact might even make it worse.
You may experience pressure in the joints of your spine that makes you want to crack your neck or your back. Once you do so, you may feel relief of the pain and pressure that you’re experiencing. The relief comes from two sources:
- Bubbles of gas in the synovial fluid of the joint pop, releasing pressure.
- The body releases natural painkillers called endorphins.
Endorphins relieve the pain and help you feel better. However, they only work on a short-term basis. Typically lasting 15 to 20 minutes at most. Because a self-adjustment doesn’t address the underlying problem, the pain and pressure are likely to build up again, and you will probably be tempted to perform another self-adjustment. This pattern can lead to spine cracking becoming a compulsive, unhealthy habit. It’s possible to hurt yourself by using too much force or pressure when cracking your back or doing it too often. This can cause too much wear and tear on your joints, leading to joint strain, swelling, and even breakdown. It can also cause damage to the soft tissue of the joints.
One of the biggest differences between cracking your own back and getting a specific chiropractic adjustment is just that, it’s specific. Chiropractors are looking specifically for that one vertebra or joint that is not functioning properly and has become subluxated. Once they find it they use a specific amount of force in a specific lined of drive to deliver a specific correction by contacting a specific part of the bone with a specific part of their hand or finger. A chiropractic adjustment is very much different from just simply cracking your back or neck. With years of training and experience, your chiropractor uses controlled force to a specific area of the body. Chiropractic adjustments work to correct structural alignment and improve your body’s physical function.