Should you be worried about your neck cracking?

neck cracking louisiana pain specialist neil jolly

Crack! There it goes again. You tilted your head quickly when a coworker yelled your name, and your neck just cracked out of nowhere.

What was that? Why does your neck randomly crack? And – should you be concerned?

The good news is that most of the time, the cracking of your neck is no big deal. There’s usually nothing wrong with you. There are, however, a few times when it is cause for concern because it could be a symptom of a bigger issue.

Here’s what you need to know about neck cracking.

When is joint cracking harmless?

Did you know there’s a name for joint cracking? It’s called crepitus, and researchers believe it happens when gas bubbles in your joint’s synovial fluid burst or form.

Sometimes, it’s not cracking you hear. It can also sound like:

  • Popping
  • Grinding
  • Snapping
  • Knocking

If it’s crepitus, it is considered safe. There’s no evidence that indicates it can damage your joints for the long-term or increase your risk for arthritis.

If you want to know for you sure that your crack was crepitus, do the same movement again and see if your neck cracks. If it doesn’t, then it was probably just crepitus, as it usually takes about 20 more minutes for another gas bubble to occur.

When is neck cracking a problem?

Although it’s typically not a worrisome thing, there are some occasions in which neck-cracking can be a sign of a larger problem.

In those instances, the popping or cracking in your neck can come from a dysfunctional or damaged cervical joint. There are a few reasons for cervical joint damage, including injury or general wear and tear as you age, also known as osteoarthritis.

Here are some signs to look for that will help you determine whether your neck-cracking is a reason to see a doctor:

  • Your neck cracks in the same way every time you move it a certain way.
  • There is pain or swelling that comes after your neck cracks.
  • If your neck starts cracking after a car accident, surgery or other type of injury, it could be a problem with your cervical spine.

Now you know that there is usually no reason to be concerned when your neck cracks or pops unexpectedly.

But doctors agree that you should not crack your neck or joints on purpose, and you shouldn’t try to do it yourself as a way to relieve pain.

It’s always good to play it safe, and if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, be sure to contact Louisiana Pain Specialists for help.

 

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