One common question I have been asked over the years is, “Can I adjust myself?” The simple answer to this question is “No”. Even chiropractors cannot adjust their own spines. Now, having given you the blunt answer to that question, I will explain why someone would feel the urge to “crack” their own neck or back and what happens when they do.
Many people who “crack” or “pop” their own neck or back usually do so to get relief from pain or stiffness. The presence of the urge to do this is a sign that there is likely some underlying condition that needs to be checked. This self-manipulation may give temporary relief because it causes your body to release endorphins. Endorphins are opioid hormones produced by your body that temporarily block pain signals in your nervous system and may cause a feeling of euphoria. Simply put, they make you feel better for a little while. The effects of endorphins do not last long because they only stay in your system for 15 to 20 minutes. Then the pain returns and so does the urge to self-manipulate again.
Chiropractic adjustments are not simply “cracking” or “popping” joints. Chiropractors spend a minimum of four years learning the structure and function of the body, especially the spine and how to adjust misalignment properly before earning their doctorate degree. Each bone in your spine can move in 16 different directions, so it is vital to know how these bones move, which direction they are misaligned, and how to properly adjust them.
When you simply twist your neck or your back to get that popping or cracking sound and the temporary relief that comes from it, you are not fixing the problem and may be creating more problems in the process. When you do this, it is usually not the bone that is stuck that you are moving, but rather the ones above and/or below it. The stuck bone stays stuck. That is why you feel the urge to do it again after 15 to 20 minutes. Doing this several times per day, day after day, can then cause you to damage the ligaments, muscles and tendons that support the alignment of the other bones in your spine and cause more problems over time. This becomes harder to correct in the long run because of the instability created by years of self-manipulation.
If you are feeling that urge to “crack” your own neck or back, remember there is a reason why you feel that need, and you should have it checked. Call Trinity Chiropractic to schedule an appointment. We will discuss your situation and perform a chiropractic examination. If any x-rays are necessary, they will be taken in-house. We do digital motion study x-rays, so we can see not only the structure of your spine, but how each bone is functioning. That allows us to be as thorough as possible when it comes to making a plan to correct your condition, rather than just putting a temporary patch on the pain.