Is It Safe To Crack Your Back?

Long days spent running errands or sitting at a desk would leave just about anyone feeling stiff and tired. This is especially true when it comes to your back. So, when you’re in search of some much needed relief, you might try a satisfying back crack. That should help, right? Well not so fast. Despite the immediate relief you may feel when you hear your back pop, relieving back pain this way may not be all that it’s cracked up to be.

Now, you’ve likely heard that cracking your knuckles is safe and doesn’t seem to cause any long term damage, but is the same true for cracking your back? To help provide better understanding into what cracking your joints does, as well as the safety of cracking your back, the experts at Gwinnett Medical Center’s Back Pain Center, share their insights.

What happens when you crack your joints?

Every joint throughout the body is lubricated by synovial fluid, which contains oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. When you bend, twist or compress your joints, the popping sound you hear is the result of nitrogen bubbles being released and/or the movement of your ligaments around the joint.

You may be wondering why cracking your joints seems to be so satisfying or feels so good? Experts believe that cracking your joints is primarily just an outlet for nervous energy, like clicking pens or twirling hair. It can easily become addictive because it’s a habit that makes you feel better.

So, is it safe to crack your back?

While cracking your knuckles may seem harmless enough, is there a chance you’re causing more damage than you realize when it comes to your back? The consensus seems to be that cracking your back is relatively harmless and shouldn’t result in any long term damage or complications—even for those of you who are habitual back-crackers.

However, for some individuals who are suffering from chronic back pain or an underlying condition, back cracking may not be the best option for relief. Because of the complexity of your back, you could end up targeting or adjusting the wrong area and worsening pain and stiffness.

What are the alternatives?

While cracking your back may indeed be safe, it may not actually be as effective as alternative tactics at relieving tension and reducing stiffness. So, the next time you feel the urge to crack your back, maybe you can try one of these techniques instead:

There are a number of different stretches you can use that target different areas of the back. You can also utilize shoulder stretches and neck stretches, too, as this may help alleviate stiffness.

You can utilize these common at-home remedies, too, like icing, heating and pain creams which will help to reduce swelling, relieve tension and promote relaxation in your back.

You can seek expert guidance and care. If you’re experiencing chronic back pain or discomfort and techniques like back cracking or stretching aren’t providing relief, it may be time to find a better treatment option.

To get to the bottom of what may be causing your back pain, the experts at Gwinnett Medical Center’s Back Pain Center will provide comprehensive care at every stage of the healing process. With up-to-date technology, knowledgeable specialists and the latest in treatment options, you will receive the customized care you need for lasting relief. 

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