I hear this question at the clinic all the time! Many people experience relief by “cracking” themselves and if you do not partake in this practice I am sure you know a friend or family member who does. This week I had a patient ask if it is okay if they get their child to walk on their back. I have also had patients ask me if it is okay if they get their spouse to “crack” their back by lifting them up in awkward positions or pushing down on them while lying face down. Growing up, my parents would get upset with my sister cracking her knuckles and they would say that this would cause arthritis or damage to her hands. Here are my thoughts on all of this…..
Is it safe to “crack” my own neck or back? Is it okay if my spouse or friend “crack” my back or to have my child walk on my back?…. First off, “cracking your own back” and “having your back adjusted by a chiropractor” are two very different things. Cracking your back requires no precision, it is not specific and it may or may not “move” the joint that is actually locked up and causing the tension that you feel. In general, it will likely “crack” a joint above or below the problem area and despite hearing a “pop” which is accompanied by release of endorphins (feel good chemicals in our body) it is not correcting the issue. Adjusting your back requires training in palpation (chiropractors receive years of training) which allows us to identify the restricted joint. Once the problem area is identified the chiropractor can apply the correct amount of force to the exact area (again, this requires years of training to perfect this). The amount of force used in the adjustment is determined by the age of the person, their sex, medical history (osteoporosis? heart issues?), weight and height. So my question for you is….would you prefer to have someone with no training or education on manipulation and adjusting techniques “crack” your back or a person with a Doctorate, 8 years of education with 4 years dedicated to practising and learning the proper force, technique and skills necessary to adjust various areas of the spine and extremities?
Will I get arthritis if I crack my knuckles?…. believe it or not a California doctor named Donald Unger won a Nobel prize a few years ago for testing this. He cracked the knuckle of his one hand at least twice a day for 50 years and did not crack the other. His conclusion: no definitive changes or increased arthritis was found in the knuckle that was cracked. (Arthritis and Rheumatism, Vol. 41, No. 5, in 1998).
I will keep this post short and sweet, I hope that you learned something from this and please feel free to contact the office if you have any further questions – Dr. Ryan Broddick
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