25 Mar Why does your back make a cracking or popping sound? Is it dangerous or bad for you?
Why does your back make a cracking or popping sound? Is it dangerous or bad for you?
Many people experience joint cracking sounds that can happen during natural movement or during manipulations of the spine in physical therapy or by a chiropractor. If you have symptoms such as pain, numbness or weakness when your back pops, if or if you are otherwise concerned, you should go to the doctor for a check up.
But if your back or neck pops when you twist or stretch and it doesn’t hurt, it is most likely harmless (similar to when someone cracks his or her finger knuckles).
The spine bones of your neck and back are separated in the front by cushions called discs. The bones (vertebrae) are attached in the back by joints called facets. Ligaments and tendons attach to and wrap around the spine.
- likely source of the sound:
The facet joints are surrounded by capsules filled with liquid, called synovial fluid, that lubricates the joints and allows for smooth, comfortable movements. Some researchers suggest that when a joint makes an audible sound (crack or pop), it is because of changes in vacuum or air pressure. Like thunder after lightning, an air or vacuum cavity within the synovial fluid forms and then collapses and produces the sound.
- less likely source of the sound:
The ligaments and tendons allow the bones of the spine to combine mobility and stability. However, just like plucking a guitar string, a moving ligament or tendon may make a sound as it is pulled across a part of the vertebrae. This phenomenon is more common if there is some degeneration in the spine or tightness in the muscles and tissues.