Neck Cracking

neck cracking all the time

Habitual neck cracking is done by some people to alleviate tension in the neck. Nevertheless, it can lead to some unwanted side effects like pain, osteoarthritis, and stroke. Mild neck exercises are advised to relieve neck pain.

Neck cracking produces a crackling sound just like what we hear when some individuals twist their knuckles to reduce stress. Some men do this on purpose by weaving the neck after getting out of bed or from any prolonged position. The cracking sound may be gone along with by a pop and this might bring some relief. Others also break their lower back, toes, and ankles. Lots of people do these constantly and unwittingly, and although it might be relaxing, neck cracking might also be dangerous.

Causes of neck cracking

The neck is comprised of 7 cervical bones called vertebrae that are supported by muscles, ligaments, and tendons. These supply movement and assistance to the head and neck, enabling us to bend, twist, and move without stress. Nevertheless, consistent stress can trigger the neck to produce a cracking sound when twisted. Usually, this may be harmless, but if neck cracking is gone along with by pain, you should think about seeking medical assessment.


A thick fluid (synovial fluid) surrounds each of the seven neck joints, supplying lubrication to facilitate their movements. This fluid contains nitrogen and carbon dioxide gas, which can form bubbles. Moving the neck joints can enhance pressure in the bubbles, triggering popping, or bursting of these bubbles. This procedure, called cavitation, is heard as a cracking sound, and is the leading reason for neck cracking.

Ligaments aspect

Ligaments support a joint where two or more bones satisfy, providing mobility to the joint. Bones may have some forecasts that are raised where ligaments can get stuck and are let loose when moving the neck. When there is a slippage of ligaments from the surface area of a bone estimate, neck cracking can happen.

Joint problem

Conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis may be identified by joint roughening. These conditions lead to degenerative bone changes in the neck that cause cracking when moved.

Cervical osteoarthritis(also called cervical spondylosis) develops as individuals age. After the age of 50, the spongy discs in between the cervical vertebrae degenerate and lose their ability to provide a natural cushion in between the bones. As the cervical vertebrae and their ligaments end up being thicker, they intrude onto the area in between the bones, making the space lessened. This results in neck tightness and pain, and also results in neck cracking in older people. Cervical spondylosis can also be a result of bad posture.

A previous neck injury may occur in specific individuals who carry out laborious activities like professional athletes and gymnasts. The hurt neck joint may experience more stress, triggering neck cracking with certain motions.

Side effects of neck cracking

Neck cracking can lead to some undesirable effects, consisting of:

  • Neck Pain – Neck cracking can decrease the movement of the neck after a long time. This is due to the wearing down of the cartilages surrounding the vertebrae, leading to degenerative modifications particular of arthritis. This results in swelling and neck pain as pressure builds up on the nerves.
  • Osteoarthritis – Habitual neck cracking locations substantial stress on the neck joints, causing the ligaments to stretch excessively. This can result in instability, which induces the development of bone bridges between the vertebrae, as the body attempts to support the joint. However, this is not a typical procedure, and can lead permanent and irreparable joint stabilization called osteoarthritis.
  • Stroke – Studies expose that strokes happening in individuals below 60 years old may be due to habitual neck cracking Repetitive neck cracking can trigger injuries to the blood vessels in the neck or cervical arteries. These splits on the arteries can cause bleeding and development of blood clots that can take a trip to the brain. Embolism can obstruct blood flow, which can deny oxygen supply to the brain. A stroke caused by neck cracking may be minor, triggering a short-term ischemic attack, however it might also be deadly. Typical symptoms of stroke consist of dizziness, confusion, weak point including half of the body, blurred vision, problem speaking, and severe headache. First aid is needed when these symptoms occur.

Relief for neck cracking

Home care

For mild conditions, one can employ these simple remedies:

  • Workout – The back of the neck is commonly held securely in position when working, triggering the muscles to reduce, and preventing natural motions of the neck. You can work out these muscles by decreasing your head to the front until the chin touches the chest. Keep the head in this position as long you can to stretch the back of the neck, then release.
  • Joint Movement – When the neck joints are not freely moving, grinding sounds may be heard. Muscle tightness can also trigger neck pain. Gently stretch your neck to ease the stress in the neck muscles. Exercise the weak neck muscles to improve the blood flow in this area and relieve pain.
  • Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) Exercise – The SCM is the big muscle at each side of the neck that causes much pain. Stretch you SCM by turning your head as far as possible to one side. You may feel minor pain and hear grinding or crunching sounds, however prevent pushing it until you feel pain. You can utilize your hands to support the head while turning. Do the same procedure gently to turn the visit the opposite.

Medical Help

You may require medical help when severe side effects such as neck pain, stroke, and osteoarthritis happen. Keep the neck steady and avoid abrupt neck movements until you get proper medical help.

Last modified: August 7, 2016


The Author

Reyus Mammadli

As a healthy lifestyle advisor I try to guide individuals in becoming more aware of living well and healthy through a series of proactive and preventive measures, disease prevention steps, recovery after illness or medical procedures.

Education: Bachelor Degree of Medical Equipment and Electronics.

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