If you know someone, or you are someone who “cracks” your own neck or back, then this blog is for you!
Adjustments that Chiropractors apply are a very specific and gentle manoeuvre. These adjustments allow the correct amount of force to move only the joint(s) required helping to improve the function of the spine. Only a Chiropractor, or other Physical Therapist that has been trained in these manoeuvres is allowed to perform them by law.
What happens when people crack their own spine, or allow someone who is untrained apply a manipulation to someone else?
Patients often ask if it is harmful to crack their own neck or back. Or to let their spouse or friend do this for them? It is NOT a good idea to SELF-manipulate your neck or back! Or to attempt to manipulate someone else either! Besides being dangerous, you are placing your own and your friends health at risk. Whilst performing DIY manipulations sometimes provides temporary relief, over time it could lead to new issues with the spine’s stability.
There are a 3 reasons why this should be avoided
1. Self-Manipulation has no control on which areas are moved and mobilised.
Firstly, self-manipulation can very easily move several joints that a re already hyper mobile (moving too much). Secondly, joints that are already moving adequately or maybe too much could possibly become irritated or maybe even inflamed. Consequently if repeated, this could create joint injury or instability, or in some cases hyper-mobility. Additionally, this leads to a great deal of muscular contraction in the area the body is trying to stabilise. Muscles tighten and contract to try to do the job of the already overstretched ligaments. As a result, the patient suffers muscle spasms, and a vicious cycle of pain leading to more pain.
2. Self-Manipulation can be dangerous.
Self-manipulation shouldn’t be applied because it could damage or worsen the unknown underlying condition. Consequently, a few conditions that would not respond well to self-adjustments are spinal canal stenosis or inflammatory arthritis. Furthermore, only a health care practitioner is able to diagnose these types of condition via a thorough history and physical examination.
3. Self-Manipulation can become addictive!
Cracking their own neck or back may provide some short term relief of pain, but the habit can be difficult to reverse. Rehabilitation on the other hand teaches patients the correct way to stretch and relax tight muscles. Alternative methods can find relief through heat, meditation, mobilisation, and strength-based exercises. The main goal in these cases is to gain stability.