On Neck Pain: Is It Safe To Crack Your Neck By Yourself?


It would seem that a lot of people experience a need to stretch their necks and hear those satisfying cracking sounds to relieve their neck pain. Have you seen some people manipulate their necks without any second thoughts? Did you listen to those satisfying cracking and popping noises? Have you tried doing it yourself? In many cases, doing this can give you temporary relief. The question now is, is it safe?

Let us take a close look at this topic. First of all, here are some excellent reasons people have neck pain and feel the need to pop or crack their necks. If you experience any of these conditions or symptoms below, it would be an excellent idea to see an upper cervical chiropractor as soon as possible.

  • Scoliosis
  • Lower or middle back pain
  • Loss of range of motion for the head (side to side movement) 
  • Feeling sore behind the ears and below the back of the skull
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • One leg seems longer than your other one
  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Numbness or tingling in the feet or hands
  • Feeling a clicking sound in the neck as you move it from side to side
  • Oversensitive vision
  • Head or neck trauma

The Neck Makes Cracking Noises – Why?

The neck joints are surrounded by synovial fluid that acts as lubrication, allowing smooth neck movements. This fluid contains gasses such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen, and these form bubbles. When the stress on the neck increases, it may result in a popping sound called cavitation. Here are some reasons for this noise to occur:

  • Ligaments

The ligaments are responsible for providing flexibility and mobility to the joints. Sometimes, they may get caught by bony projections. Whenever the neck is twisted or rotated, these ligaments become movable and result in the cracking or popping noise. 

  • Previous Neck Injury

If you have suffered from an injury in your neck caused by stressful activities such as heavy lifting, it may cause problems. Gymnasts and other athletes are susceptible to getting neck injuries. As a result, these would put pressure or stress on the neck joints. Thus, it can cause neck cracking sounds whenever the neck moves awkwardly.

  • Joints

Some medical conditions, such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, can cause your neck to make cracking sounds.

Neck Cracking And Neck Pain

Whenever someone feels tension in the neck area that causes neck pain, it would feel like cracking the neck is one of the fastest ways to get relief. Unfortunately, neck cracking by yourself can be dangerous. There is a risk of getting a stroke, especially to some people who are prone to it. Also, some people may develop osteoarthritis over time, especially to older people.

Seven bones make up the cervical vertebrae. Tendons, muscles, and ligaments support these bones. These vertebrae support the neck and the head while allowing the neck to have mobility and smooth movements. If the neck becomes tensed and under a lot of stress, it may produce a cracking sound whenever it gets twisted. In this case, it is generally not harmful. However, if there is pain, then it’s certainly time to seek professional care.

How Dangerous is Neck Cracking?

There are some high risks involved when you start cracking your neck.

  • Osteoarthritis

If you get into the habit of repeatedly cracking your neck, it can put pressure on the neck joints and also cause the ligaments to overstretch. As a result, it would make the ligaments unstable, and bone bridging starts. In other words, the bones would begin making calcium to help stabilize the neck. Thus, it would lead to osteoarthritis.

  • Neck Pain

When most people feel neck pain, their first move is to crack their necks to get relief. However, when done incorrectly, it may have the opposite effect. It would cause harm instead of comfort. Regularly cracking the neck may result in a reduced range of motion over time. Also, the cartilage may become damaged due to regular stress and constant neck movement. Excessive neck cracking leads to the degeneration of bones and even causes arthritic conditions.

  • Stroke 

There are several cases where people who crack their necks end up having a stroke. How does this happen? When the blood vessels in the cervical spine are damaged, the arteries may rupture and cause bleeding. Thus, it would also form blood clots, which block the blood from reaching the brain. It is what causes a stroke.

If you have a hard time stopping the habit of cracking the neck for relief, please watch out for the following symptoms below. If you happen to experience any of the following warning signs, please seek immediate medical assistance.

  • Confusion
  • Blurry vision
  • Unrelenting headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Dysphasia

Safe Relief for Neck Pain (Without Cracking Your Neck Or Spine)

Some people find it hard to believe that upper cervical chiropractors would never pop or crack the spine or neck. 

Upper cervical doctors use a precise and gentle procedure for correcting spinal misalignments when patients visit their offices for an adjustment. They focus on finding the source of neck pain. Most often, it has to do with a misalignment in the top bones of the upper cervical spine (the neck). The atlas (C1) and axis (C2) bones are often responsible for causing neck pain if they move out of their proper positions.

These vertebrae are more susceptible to misaligning than other bones of the spine due to their high mobility and location. They allow a wide range of motion to the head. They may suffer misalignment due to any of these reasons:

  • Car accidents
  • Sporting injuries
  • Slipping and falling incidents
  • Whiplash
  • Neck and head injury or trauma

Misalignment can cause neck pain, along with several other health problems. Upper cervical chiropractors use a technique that is low force and precise. Upper cervical care works to encourage the vertebrae to move back into their proper places. It would result in a longer-lasting adjustment, and allow the body to heal properly from the damage due to misalignment. Many people find lasting relief from their neck pains, thanks to upper cervical chiropractic. Therefore, they no longer need to crack their necks.

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.