An unpleasant sensation in your neck might be on its way to ruin yet another day for you. This frequent discomfort can be so annoying — a real pain in the neck, if you will. When you can no longer bear it, chances are you resort to the traditional method of neck cracking. But is this technique effective in the long run, or is it bad to crack your neck?

Before you decide to pop your neck again, you should consider everything that neck cracking entails. To find out if this method can harm your health and how you can solve the problem, stick around.

Why Is Neck Cracking Such a Favored Method?

Why Is Neck Cracking Such a Favored Method

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An awkward sleeping or sitting position or a twisted joint can result in a painful feeling in your neck. Neck stiffness is arguably one of the most annoying feelings as it can prevent you from functioning properly. With a neck ache, doing your regular housework or even office work might prove challenging. Plus, the seemingly rising level of pain might be stressing you out even more.

Because of this, you might feel tempted to deal with the problem right away. In such a situation, cracking your neck might seem like a reasonable choice. This technique is fast, doesn’t hurt, and can bring you an instant feeling of relief. As it goes, you can crack your neck on your own and regardless of where you are.

How Does Neck Cracking Work?

how does neck cracking work

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You’ve seen how neck cracking can be an easy way out of an unpleasant neckache situation. Tilt your head quickly and energetically to the side, and you’ll hear a popping sound. But why does this happen, and more importantly, is it a bad sign?

Especially if you aren’t used to popping your neck, this cracking sound might confuse or scare you. However, it doesn’t mean you’ve broken a tiny bone or fractured a joint. Instead, this strange sound happens due to your joints’ sudden movement. Also known as crepitus, it is a pretty common occurrence with joint cracking and in itself isn’t a reason for worrying.

So, you can hear it when you crack your knuckles, wrists, toes, or ankles as well. Much like other crepitations, the cracking sound in your neck is a result of air-bubble formations. This process of forming carbon dioxide bubbles within a joint is called cavitation. But how does it happen?

There are two opposing surfaces between joints separated by a thin layer of fluid. The function of this fluid is to help the joints move smoothly. But if your joints become stiff, the fluid can create tension and increase resistance between them. When you crack your neck, you overcome this tension, and the surfaces finally separate.

So, the pressure change in the fluid that separates joints creates a gas cavity. The gas from the fluid gets further into the joints and forms air bubbles. Finally, when the joints rapidly separate, the cracking sound occurs.

But Is It Bad to Crack Your Neck?

Is It Bad

Now that you know how neck cracking works, you need to consider if it can harm your health. Is it bad to crack your neck, or is there no reason to worry about it?

The truth is, cracking your neck releases endorphins that help soothe your pain. This way, you instantly feel better. The next time your neck feels sore and stiff, you’re likely to resort to the same pain-relieving technique. Thus, you can even become addicted to popping your joints.

But is it bad to crack your neck too often? You may be surprised to hear that constant neck popping can pose a threat to your health. There are many blood vessels in your neck that transport blood to and from your brain. Damaging them can lead to blood clotting, which can increase your risk of having a stroke.

Also, by cracking your neck forcefully, you can even pinch the nerves in your neck. There’s also a risk of straining one of the joints or muscles. If that happens, you won’t be able to move your neck as it will cause you pain.

You might have also heard that neck popping often gets associated with arthritis. The truth is, nothing suggests that cracking your neck can cause this chronic illness. While constant neck cracking does have its cons, there’s no evidence that developing neck arthritis is one of them.

How Should You Deal with Your Stiff Neck?

Stiff Neck

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You’re now aware that cracking your neck can be bad for you if you do it frequently and forcefully. Otherwise, it won’t pose any serious threat to your health. Still, you need to know when your neck situation might become alarming. As you’ll see, some issues might indicate you’ll need to pay a visit to a professional.

The most important thing to note is that popping your neck should never be painful. Also, you shouldn’t have to put too much effort into cracking it. If neck cracking seems forced and causes you pain, that might indicate something’s not right.

Also, your neck shouldn’t be swollen and too stiff. In case this happens, it might be a sign of a neck injury. Naturally, you’ll need to avoid moving your neck altogether and seek medical help instead.

If your neck feels stiff too often, you should consider visiting a chiropractor even if you don’t feel pain. Your chiropractor will loosen up your joints by performing a neck adjustment called cervical manipulation. The key to feeling better might even lie in a “placebo effect” after visiting a professional.

Final Thoughts

The annoying feeling of stiffness and discomfort in your neck might be driving you crazy. You can’t seem to resist the urge to pop your neck and ease your pain. But is it bad to crack your neck?

The truth is, this instant pain-relieving technique is perfectly safe if you do it right. Otherwise, forcing your neck to crack too often can lead to health problems. You can strain the joints and muscles in your neck or even damage blood vessels and nerves. Therefore, visiting a chiropractor might be a more reasonable solution.

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