What Happens When a Chiropractor Cracks Your Neck

People might be curious about what occurs when a chiropractor “cracks” your neck. The term “cracking” means the popping sound when quick movements loosen the joints and ligaments in the neck. Joints in various body parts, like knuckles, lower back, hips, ankles, and toes, can also make similar sounds.

Tacoma Chiropractors explains the popping and cracking sounds during adjustments

Joints, including the neck, can make a popping sound during gentle chiropractic manipulation for three main reasons

Gas Release: Joints have fluid with oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. In the neck, facet joints have capsules filled with fluid and gas. When stretched, gas bubbles rapidly release, causing a popping sound.

Movement Effects: Joint movement affects tendons and ligaments, fibers connecting bones and muscles. Snapping or cracking noises can occur if these structures move or tighten.

Arthritis Impact: Arthritis can make joint cartilage less smooth, resulting in noise when the roughened joint surfaces move.


It’s not recommended for people to try cracking their own neck if they’re in pain, as it can harm nerves and blood vessels. Chiropractors, trained to understand the root of pain, use gentle techniques to restore normal body movement. For details on chiropractic neck manipulation, contact Tacoma Chiropractic Health Connection and ask to speak to a neck chiropractor.

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Content Reviewed by
Dr. Bradley Eyford DC Tacoma Chiropractor
Doctor of Chiropractic