Should I go to a chiropractor for a back cracking?


i am 26 and i play a lot of sports and stuff and always have since i was a kid, so i am getting hit or falling down or doing something to hurt my neck and upper back all the time, espcially between the shoulder blades. i guess i learned to crack my neck to get releif when upper back pain bothers me cuz you cannot watch sports on TV for very long before you see all the  players twisting and pulling their heads around.  yesterday one of the guys at the gym told me that i am always popping my back and neck more than anybody he has ever seen.  he said you could get hurt if you keep doing it and doesn’t know how to do it right.  he said that i should go to a chiropractor for a professional back cracking to fix my problem the right way. i can’t seem to stop doing it cuz when my back hurts and neck gets stiff it is the only way to make me feel better and help me.

is cracking your back bad the way I do it?       

gary litcomb


Greetings Gary,

My friend, you sure know how to hurt a guy.  All those cracking back and neck popping comments reminded my how much I used to cringe at the office when my patients spoke that way.  Ouch.  

You see, we chiropractors are doctors who take great pride in our skill and ability to correct spinal misalignment that causes back pain and neurological problems that sometimes can provide life saving benefits.  We use our hands to deliver a “spinal adjustment,” sometimes also known as a “chiropractic adjustment” or a “chiropractic manipulation,” take your pick. We never say pop or crack about what we do because that would be disrespectful to something so valuable to millions of people each day, a skill that takes eight years to initially learn and a lifetime to make perfect, as well as disrespectful to the people who provide that service.   

What you are doing might indeed be popping your neck, but I am doing something far more sophisticated, specific and skillful than what you can imagine.  For this reason it is probably good for you to simply refer to this as an adjustment, got it?

I cannot tell you if what you are doing is the correct way to do it, because I do not know what is wrong with you (and neither do you), nor do I know what you are doing (and again, neither  do you).   I have worked with many young people like you and it is always the same.  You push and pull and twist around until you hear some kind of noise in your spine and you assume that you have done something good.  Sometimes you feel nothing happen, so you push and pull and twist around harder and harder until something happens and then you are satisfied for awhile.  Eventually you will injure yourself.   

What you are basically doing is weakening your spine and related skeletal structure by stretching and deforming the tendons and ligaments that should be holding your vertebrae in correct alignment by your repeated popping and cracking. This is not good, and will ultimately cause weakness and easy misalignment of those structures. The more you do this the more you will need to do this, like the proverbial vicious cycle.    

I suggest that you not risk hurting yourself further, because I suspect you have already begun to do harm to yourself.  I offer that educated guess simply because you say that you are consciously and unconsciously cracking your back so much that other people have taken notice of it and are alarmed enough to not only bring it to your attention, but to present your behavior as a warning.  Find a good chiropractor who can determine what is going on with you and help you to no longer need this repeated self-abuse that you are doing to yourself.

If you need help to locate a good chiropractor, please see Do you have any suggestions how to find a chiropractor in my area? 

Good luck go you.  DL

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