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Quick Dose: Is Cracking Your Back Bad?

Are you guilty of cracking your back? Sometimes there is nothing more satisfying than that release of tension followed by that little “pop.” But it turns out, the popping noise you experience comes from pockets of gas from synovial fluid in your joints responding to sudden force. The urge to crack likely comes from your joints being out of alignment or restricted in their movements, which impacts the surrounding area.

Northwestern Medicine’s orthopaedic chiropractor David W. Flatt, DC, explains, “When joint restrictions exist, it’s common that surrounding muscles will tighten around that region, which unfortunately increases the stiffness.” The motion created when cracking your back will release that tension, resulting in a pleasant sensation.

As great as it might feel, it’s important to leave cracking your back to the professionals. By cracking your own back, you could actually make your back issues worse and cause more pain, muscle strain or injury. Professionals can better determine how to manipulate your spine with proper force, without causing additional damage. They can also address any additional issues you might have.

In the meantime, you might relieve back pain by using cold and heat packs on the area. Gentle stretches may also help. If you continue to feel discomfort, consult a medical professional, who can help find the treatment that is right for you.