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What’s the “Popping” Sound Heard with a Chiropractic Adjustment?

If you’ve ever popped a joint or had a chiropractic adjustment done, you may be familiar with the popping noise (and often, immediate relief) that comes along with the adjustment. If you’re not, it can seem potentially dangerous or frightening. What is it? Is it harmful? And can you (or should you) do it yourself?

The short answer: it’s completely natural, it’s not dangerous and you should avoid trying to pop your own joints. Here’s an overview of what’s happening to produce that noise.


The sound heard with certain types of chiropractic adjustments does not mean something went in or went out of place.

It is simply two joint surfaces which are being slightly separated and pressure quickly escaping from the joint, similar to a sound that can be heard when a suction cup is pulled from smooth surface. This is called joint cavitation, and the sound is created by tiny air bubbles escaping from the joints. Because the pressure is released, most people report that this feels good. A neurological reflex will also cause an immediate change in circulation and muscle tone.

There are also many chiropractic techniques that do not “pop” or “crack” the joints. These can include gentle twisting or stretching, electrical stimulation, traction, ergonomic advice and lifestyle change advice. Depending on the results you’re seeking, you may undergo one or all of these treatments in your course of care.


The kind of adjustments that create a popping or cracking sound are due to muscles being manipulated back into place. When your muscles are maladjusted, they can create undue pressure on your nerves, joints and spine, which causes pain. A chiropractor will gently manipulate the musculoskeletal system so your muscles will ease back into their normal configuration, thus releasing the pressure and allowing the nerves to operate freely.


Even if you get your back to pop and it feels good, it’s actually not a good idea to pop your own back. That’s because even though some pressure may be released from the joints, you may be doing further damage to the muscles of your spine, which will have long-term detrimental effects. It’s always best to visit an experienced chiropractor who can determine a series of safe and effective treatments for your back, neck and other joints.


Interested in learning more about the popping sound heard with a chiropractic adjustment? If you’re ready to experience the relief of a chiropractic adjustment for yourself in Naples, FL, see Hiler Chiropractic & Neurology first. Since 1998, we have proudly served the Naples area with comprehensive chiropractic, physical medicine and regenerative medicine services. Whether you suffer from chronic pain, are recovering from an injury or are seeking improved health and performance in general, we have the skills and experience to help you work toward your goals. Call our office today at 239-330-1000 with any questions or to schedule an appointment.

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