I saw this post on Huffington Post’s Healthy Living page today about whether or not cracking your joints is dangerous and promptly felt the urge to crack my neck. And my back, for good measure.
Basically, the good news is it is not true that cracking leads to arthritis later in life. The bad news is that there is a very small chance that you might tear something and have a stroke or nerve damage. Mostly if you’re old and/or weak.
What I found most interesting was that the popping sound isn’t really related to the relief one feels when they crack. Relief is felt because cracking stimulates pain-blocking sensors in the brain and loosens up the joints.
“We know that spinal manipulation causes stimulation of areas of the brain that block pain, changes the function of the muscles that help support the spine and changes the flexibility of motion segments in the spine. Exercises can help loosen the muscles and other treatments can help with pain, but the flexibility of the joint — that’s uniquely aided by manipulation.” – Dr. Stephen Perle, a chiropractor and Professor of Clinical Sciences at the University of Bridgeport