Not everybody likes to get their neck cracked

Not every­body likes get­ting their neck cracked

Of course, as doc­tors of chi­ro­prac­tic, we don’t like to talk about “crack­ing” your neck.

Instead, we call the maneu­ver a spinal adjust­ment or joint manip­u­la­tion. When it results in a crack­ing sound, we call that an “audi­ble release” or “joint cav­i­ta­tion.”

But what­ev­er you call it, a lot of patients feel pro­tec­tive about their neck and the idea of a crack­ing noise gives them the creeps. 

What’s the pur­pose of spinal adjust­ments?

Actu­al­ly, the crack­ing noise is an inci­den­tal side-effect of a joint adjust­ment.

The impor­tant pur­pose of the pro­ce­dure is to improve joint play – the sub­tle glid­ing motion of one ver­te­bra rel­a­tive to its neigh­bor to the north or south. Some­times a crack occurs as part of the ben­e­fi­cial effect when the bones spread apart and the joint space opens up.

Here’s an alter­na­tive I use

In my prac­tice, I often use a tech­nique I call “cer­vi­cal joint play” as an alter­na­tive to a rapid style joint adjust­ment. Many of my patients pre­fer it. While you lie on your back, I pal­pate the tight spots in your neck and per­form gen­tle rock­ing motions to free up the move­ment of the joints. If I can pal­pate bet­ter mobil­i­ty of the joints after­ward, I know I’m doing my job.

Mul­ti­modal man­u­al ther­a­py

There’s always more than one way to get the job done. That’s a prin­ci­ple I’ve devel­oped over more than 35 years in prac­tice. And my patients appre­ci­ate the flex­i­bil­i­ty, cre­ativ­i­ty and expe­ri­ence I bring to my work.


Deepen Your Body of Knowledge

Secret of a good chi­ro­prac­tic adjust­ment

Chi­ro­prac­tic best for neck pain


About Ronald Lavine, D.C.

Dr. Lavine has more than thirty five years' experience helping patients alleviate pain and restore health using diverse, scientifically-based manual therapy and therapeutic exercise and alignment methods. His website,, provides more information about his approach. Please contact him at or at 212-400-9663.
This entry was posted in Joint Health and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.