What is the cracking sound that happens during an adjustment? –Dr. Tiffany Huggins, DC.

Frequently my patients refer to their chiropractic adjustment as ‘cracking their spine’. I quickly remind them that we crack eggs, but we adjust the spine!

They rebut with the simple question of why does that sound occur when we are adjusting the body using particular chiropractic techniques?


Chiropractor Doing Adjustment


The sound occurs when an adjustment or spinal manipulation is performed using the diversified approach. The sound is called a Cavitation and it is the same noise that happens when you ‘crack your knuckles’.

The dictionary definition of cavitation is the formation of vapor bubbles of a flowing liquid in a region where the pressure of the liquid falls below its vapor pressure. In the case of a joint cavitation, it’s the release of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide moving from a high pressure region to a lower one, releasing the joint pressure.

You can compare it to the sound heard when you open a soda can and release the gaseous liquid previously contained under high pressure, as the pressure changes you hear the ‘pop’ sound that has given this beverage its infamous name.

Does that sound have to occur to be a successful adjustment?

No! Some techniques never result in the audible pop at all. In fact here at Oakville Chiropractic Centre, we use many techniques that differ in approach to help suit a variety of patients. While manual adjustments will frequently bring on the cavitation and its accompanying sound, the use of drop table and Activator will rarely cause any sound at all.

The technique that is right for you will depend on your condition, your body’s response to care, and your chiropractor. We are more than happy to provide a complimentary consultation to discuss all of the above listed techniques along with additional services like spinal decompression, myofascial release, and our innovative adjunct therapies such as our patient favourites the anatometre and electromagnetic therapy.

Is it safe to ‘crack’ my own knuckles or spine?

While it may feel good, we never recommend self-adjustment. The areas that most people find it easy or relieving to adjust are often the areas that are healthy joints and don’t require forced movement and repositioning. The areas that are problematic will be more difficult to move back into the proper anatomical place, and that’s where the professionals come in!

Chiropractors isolate the area, and adjust the joints that actually require it! Self-adjusting could actually result in long term problems if moved improperly so beware that the short term relief (which is a chemical surge signalling relief to the body) is exactly that short-term and potentially dangerous long-term!

How do I know what needs to be adjusted?

You probably don’t! So come on in for an evaluation and we can help determine your own personal chiropractic and health needs! We are open Monday through Saturday, early mornings and late evenings! For more information on adjusting techniques and other chiropractic information, please email us at info@oakvillechiropractic.com or contact us at 905-845-2291.

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