I recently discovered a WikiHow article entitled “6 Ways to Crack Your Neck.” Let me ask you this… Have you ever felt compelled to skip the dentist’s office, reach for your rechargeable Dewalt drill, and attempt to fix your own toothache?
Pretty silly, right? Well wrenching your neck from side to side hoping to elicit pain relief isn’t much smarter.
I’ve lost count how many times someone has asked me if it’s okay to “crack” their own neck. In case you’re wondering too… the answer is a resounding NO. It’s never okay to manipulate your own neck, no matter how good you think it feels.
The cervical spine is one of the most delicate and complex parts of your body. It consists of joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels, as well as your lower brainstem and spinal cord. Arteries along the sides of your neck are responsible for sending blood directly to your brain. Meddling with it for momentary relief is ill-advised.
The more you give in to “cracking” your neck, the worse the underlying problem gets. And you might be thinking…”But if I don’t do it, my neck begins to hurt even more!” – I know, it’s a vicious cycle, and a real Catch-22. All the more reason to address the cause of the problem at a chiropractor’s office.
Here’s the bottom line… Your spine likes to be stable. It’s not happy when it’s unbalanced or hyper-mobile. If your neck is tight, painful, or stiff, there’s a good chance you’ve got a developing structural problem. Spinal degeneration is not okay, and I can promise you that bending, twisting, and contorting your neck to induce popping sounds is not the solution!
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Great article! Couldn’t have said it better. Thanks, Doc!
A Great reminder to take the signals your body is sending you seriously and the potential impact of “doing it yourself”
umm… thanks for telling me this ive been cracking my neck for a while… any sugestions on how to stop cracking your neck because it seems adicting to keep doing so.
I’ve cracked my neck for awhile now. 😦
It is an awful habit. It was my new year’s resolution and I noticed it didn’t pop on its own for while, which proves you’re correct.
I just need to figure out how to stop as I fell off the wagon for a bit.
Will resolve again!
hi doc i am a fith grader and having to do a project on neck popping i was wondering if there is some way i could ask u some qustions
Yes indeed! I take on this neck cracking/popping issue here: http://liachiro.com/our-residents-ask-is-it-okay-to-pop-my-own-neck/
i’ve been cracking my neck since i was 10, over time the muscles on the right side of my neck have loosen, they have no give, i can turn my head left and its gives like a spring, turn my head right… nothing, so my question is this…will the muscles in my neck strengthin over time or is the damage done?
Ultimately, the sooner you have it evaluated and addressed, the better off you’ll be. Improvements can generally be made as long as the problem hasn’t been around for 30+ years.
I have had mild tinnitus for many years — longer than I can remember. Lately, though, it is getting much worse, to the point that I have begun to seek treatment options.
While doing research, I found this page on neck-popping. I crack my neck multiple times a day. I’ve only been doing it for a few years, but do you think there is any correlation between my worsening tinnitus and neck popping? (Sometimes it *really* pops!)
I would’t discount the possibility, Jerry. If you can find an Upper Cervical practitioner in your area, schedule a consultation and let them have a look and see what shape your cervical spine is in… They’ll be able to give you more info at that time.
ok, i recently started popping my neck, and i do it multiple times a minute, i am contsantly popping my neck and it always needs it. my back does the same thing, but because it is harder to pop your own back its not as bad. if i just quit popping my neck, will it fix itslelf and not hurt?
I always click my neck and it’s a really bad habit, what could I do to get out of the habit?
Two things… first, stop intentionally moving your neck in ways to help “pop” spinal joints. Second, meet with a reputable chiropractor in your vicinity and get a spinal exam. If there’s an underlying structural problem developing, it should be addressed.
Good advice, thank you
Thanks for the advice Doc. I always have been cracking my neck and didn’t think it was bad…until I developed bad headaches the past year…and started working for a chiropractor I’ve been getting regular neck adjustments and can feel the relief from the headaches, but still neck pain, now after reading this I have to believe it’s from my own neck cracking. I will immediately stop today!! Thanks again!
You can also wonder what are the benefits of neck cracking or manipulation anyway…posture and stabilisation are much more important if you want long term relief!
It’s still a hard habit to break. I have just recently sought the help of a chiropractor for multiple issues with my spine. I’m trying to stop, but I feel like I have to crack it sometimes to get immediate relief. The instant gratification carries longterm problems, but there are times I am consumed with that needful feeling to remove that current discomfort and painful ache.
I have cracked my neck for too many years, and now I must pay for it. Yes I saw a Chiropractor at first, and felt much better. The down fall is that I “learned” how to do it. Now I have 5 bulging disks with splintering and narrowing of my spinal cord. I am a rare case, in that I have only one carotid artery, and 4 aneurysms in my Circle of Willis. Maine Doctors will not touch me, due to being on Plavix, and how low my aneurysms are. So I guess what I am trying to say is if you have the option to start, don’t !!
I have had a popping/cracking neck for several years now, my neck feels stiff and when I move my head/neck I get a load cracking/popping sound…. Do I need to get this checked out at gp?
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