Is Cracking My Back Bad For Me?

figure back pain

What Happens When I Crack My Back?

Is cracking my back bad for me? This is a frequently asked question which we are often unclear about. With most traditional cracks that sound like a ‘pop,’ it is created from something called “cavitation”. This is where air pressure in the joint is suddenly changed, resulting in an audible pop. For some others, they may experience a pop or a grinding sensation each time they move a certain joint a certain way. This is often referred to crepitus. It is a result from degeneration of the joint and cartilage which can result in typically non-painful popping or grinding.

Am I Causing Damage When I Crack My Back?

There is not a clear consensus regarding the long term or even short-term consequences of cracking your back. If you are persistently cracking your back on a daily or weekly basis, you could be excessively twisting and bending your spinal joints, leading to potential joint instability. Often muscles will tighten around areas that they sense as unstable, which can lead to pain. This is also where “knots” or muscle spasms tend to form. So… while you may get short term relief from cracking your back, you may suffer pain, dysfunction and joint instability down the road.

Things To Do Instead Of Cracking My Back

There are other techniques that you can use for pain management, other than cracking your back. Massage therapy, use of heating pads/cold packs/topical creams, and physical therapy are all options. Physical therapy will help strengthen your active stabilizers of your back (your muscles) which will protect and strengthen your back, improving your tolerance to your daily activities with less pain. Your physical therapist will also ensure that the joints in your back are in correct alignment. One of the biggest bonuses is that your therapist will teach you how to self-manage your pain for long term success. Please call Aquacare at any of our Maryland or Delaware offices to schedule a free consultation or formal evaluation to discuss your options to help you achieve your individualized goals.
Written by Marisa Newcomb, PTA at Aquacare Physical Therapy’s office in Millville, DE.

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