As we age, our joints weaken, and things stop working how they used to. Cracking and popping noises may appear one day, but their routine appearance often results in us drowning them out and thinking they are “normal.” One common symptom adults tend to report to our chiropractic team at Advanced Spine and Posture in Las Vegas, NV is a clicking or cracking sound when they turn their heads to the side.
Because this noise may not always be accompanied by any severe neck pain, you may think nothing of it and continue about your day. But these clicking noises are not to be ignored. They actually may indicate cartilage damage in the neck or another problem that should be treated to prevent pain or injury.
What’s causing the cracking?
There are a few different reasons why your neck might be clicking or cracking, and some are more serious than others. The cervical spine (neck) is made up of numerous vertebrae and discs with facet joints between them, along with muscles, ligaments, and nerves. Clicking or cracking sensations or sounds may be originating from a combination of these many integrated parts.
The occasional crack is usually not a big deal. These cracks might happen because of a buildup of gas bubbles within your joints that get released with movement. If you move your neck and it cracks, but you can’t crack it again until later and you don’t feel any pain, you probably don’t need to worry.
However, if you can crack your neck repeatedly with movement, and/or you begin to feel pain, stiffness, or swelling following the cracking, there may be an underlying issue you need to address.
Concerns about neck cartilage
The most likely reason you’re hearing a clicking is because of damage to the cartilage in your neck. Cartilage is a smooth and elastic-feeling tissue that covers the ends of your facet joints and absorbs shock when you move. Over time, this cartilage can get worn down and damaged, typically because of a condition like osteoarthritis.
When cartilage gets damaged, it loses its smooth texture and thins out, making movement across the cartilage less easy and gentle. The clicking or grinding you feel when you move your neck is called crepitus and is caused by the rough movement of damaged cartilage and bones grating on bones.
Osteoarthritis can become severely painful and debilitating if it continues to degenerate your cartilage, potentially leading to increased swelling, stiffness, and immobility. If you feel pain or experience stiffness or swelling in combination with neck crepitus, visit a doctor as soon as possible.
Treating cracking in the neck
There is no set cure for crepitus or its underlying conditions like osteoarthritis. However, you may be able to find relief from pain by visiting a chiropractor.
Through our Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) technique, gentle manipulations of the cervical spine, stretches, and exercises led by one of the chiropractors at Advanced Spine and Posture in Las Vegas, NV may help with pain management and lead to improved mobility of the neck.
Chiropractic BioPhysics, or CBP, is one of the most scientific, researched, and results-oriented corrective care techniques. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health, eliminating nerve interference and addressing the source of pain, fatigue, and disease. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is gentle, painless, and non-invasive.