Article Of The Week- Jan 29 - Feb 2, 2018 - Stop Now, What's That Sound?

Stop Now, What's That Sound?                      Article of the week Jan 29 to Feb 2, 2018

            One of the questions that I have been asked the most over my 18 years as a chiropractor has to do with the noise that accompanies certain chiropractic adjustments.  While not all adjustments make a noise, some are designed to make an audible sound, referred to as a cavitation.  The layperson may refer to this noise as a “cracking”, “snapping” or             “popping” sound.  My article of the week is going to answer the     question, “what makes the noise?”, as well as whether it is good or bad when you notice your joints spontaneously making cracking or popping noises with everyday movements. 

The first thing you need to understand is a little bit of anatomy about the joints of the body.  There are different types of joints, but the most common joint, and the one associated with cavitation (noise) is called a diarthrodial joint.  It is a joint where two bones meet and are separated by a cushioning substance known as cartilage. The bones and cartilage are surrounded by a capsule which has a lubricating fluid called synovial fluid inside.  The fluid contains nutrients to feed the cartilage and keep it healthy, as well as some dissolved gases including carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen.

Certain joint movements are known to cause the capule around the joint to stretch, and when that happens the volume inside the joint decreases, causing less pressure in the fluid.  When this happens, the gas bubbles inside the joint disappear as they dissolve into the surrounding fluid.  It is this gas release that makes the “popping” noise associated with adjustments and other movements.

Now to answer the question, is cavitation of joints good or bad?  Cavitating a joint is known to increase it's mobility as well as increase the movement of fluid within the joint.  The release can essentially help flush old fluid out and help new fluid to diffuse into the joint to provide the cartilage with fresh nutrients.  In addition, by restoring proper motion, specifically to spinal joints, pressure or tension is released from spinal nerves with improves communication between your brain and your body.

The catch is that for a cavitation to be truly beneficial it needs to be directed at truly “stuck” joints.  When people self adjust as is often seen when they “crack their knuckles”, they are often moving joints that are moving too much already.  A chiropractic adjustment is specific and directed at areas of the spine that are misaligned or lacking full mobility.  The good news is that there is no research to suggest that “cracking your knuckles” will actually cause your joints to degenerate faster.

Unless the sound you heard was preceded by trauma, or you notice specific pain or swelling, you need not worry about general noises made by your ankles, knees, hips, ankles, fingers or spine with ordinary everyday movements.  You may also hear snaps, creaks and pops from tendons and ligaments coming into contact with certain bones as you move.

Moving joints is critical to their health and will actually cause them wear more slowly, not more quickly.  Some people worry that exercising will cause joints to wear out faster, but the opposite is actually true.  Walking, cycling, swimming, stretching and using an elliptical machine are all great ways to improve your joint and overall health.

Keep moving, and embrace the noise!

Yours in Health,

Dr. Tim

Grace Chiropractic – 1-3230 Monarch Drive – 705-323-9100 –

Upcoming closures – Wednesday February 14 2018  


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