Spinal manipulation also known as getting your back “cracked”, has been widely used to treat back pain amongst healthcare providers like chiropractors, osteopaths, and physical therapists. However, many people do not know what the “cracking” sound means. Inaccurate beliefs about the cracking sounds can be associated with harmful effects such as increased fear, thinking that the spine can easily slip “out of place”, is “fragile”, or can be easily damaged. All of which are NOT true.
Clinical research shows small, short-lasting effects of spinal manipulation on pain compared to no treatment. However has little to no effect compared to sham treatments.
What is the “cracking” sound?
- Bubbles of synovial fluid found within our joints are converted to gas producing a cracking sound.
What does the general populating think the “cracking” sound is?
- 49% believed that the “cracking” sound was due to “realignment”
- 23% believed it was due to friction between two vertebrae
- 14% didn’t know or thought some other structures in the spine were “adjusting” in some way
- 5% thought a ligament was being “released”
It is not clear whether these misconceptions are due to outdated beliefs by health professionals, or their unwillingness to correct or educate their patients.
If pain is interfering or holding your back from performing the activities you love, reach out to a performance physical therapist!