Spinal Adjustment Noises Harmless, Feels Good

“Chiropractors don’t actually ‘crack’ bones during a treatment,” explains Dr.George I. Traitses, a chiropractor with his own private practice and who handles media liaison for the Ontario Chiropractic Association (OCA).

“Sometimes you hear that expression and it can frighten someone who has never had a spinal adjustment.”

In fact, there is sometimes a “popping” noise associated with an adjustment.

“The noise comes from the joint itself, not the bones,” Dr. Traitses says. “It is caused by the sudden separation of the joint surfaces, followed by a release of gas pressure, largely carbon dioxide, in the joint fluid.

“That’s rather like what happens when you open a bottle of pop. Carbon dioxide gas is released and you hear a fizzing sound.”

In some cases, when muscles are particularly tight, an adjustment may produce a snapping sort of noise that results when tendons move over bone ridges. People whose joints are arthritic may experience a slight grinding sound, due to wear and tear.

Says Dr. Traitses, “Chiropractic treatment focuses on adjusting joints that are not moving properly. This usually involves applying a light, quick pressure to a joint in the spine (or hand, foot, etc.). From this comes the sound and sensation of an audible release — called cavitation — much like what you feel if you pull on a finger.

“The adjustment process, however, is safe and painless. It restores proper motion in the joint and decreases pain and inflamation.

Chiropractors are licensed as doctors, authorized to diagnose and treat conditions concerning the spine, muscle and nervous systems. Chiropractors work to promote optimal health and wellness through positive lifestyle changes. The OCA is a voluntary membership organization representing some 1,800 Ontario chiropractors. The objectives of the association include public education and research devoted to improving the quality of health care for the citizens of Ontario.

Written by Dr. George Traitses