Mandy (not her real name) was an acquaintance of mine who worked near my Brisbane city chiropractic practice. She told me that she had always been frightened to see a chiropractor because she feared the thought of ‘bones cracking’. This is a common fear in the population.
In time she told me that she had suffered long term neck pain, headaches and migraine and sought my help, although still with some fear.
It might help those with the same apprehension to know that the ‘crack’ is not bones cracking!
The smaller joints of the spine are called ‘facet joints’. These are 2 smooth faced surfaces that articulate on one another. They are held together by a joint capsule and are lubricated by synovial fluid. Some of the joint content is nitrogen, carbon dioxide and oxygen.
One of the things a chiropractor will assess is joint movement. A healthy joint will move its full normal range. A restricted (or subluxated) joint will have a smaller range of movement.
One aim of the chiropractic adjustment is to restore the normal range of joint movement.
A chiropractic adjustment is a controlled stretch of the joint capsule causing the two joint surfaces to separate (within a normal range) forming a vacuum (or cavitation), and a popping sound as gases formed within the synovial fliud are released.
Still fear the crack?!
Many chiropractors also use what we call ‘non-force techniques’ which are appropriate for certain individuals and are an alternative. I vary my approach depending on the person so if you really don’t like the thought of the ‘crack’ I use a non-force technique.
(By the way, Mandy, is doing well!!)
Dr Patrick Maher
Chiropractor Brisbane CBD