"Crack my back for me will you please?" Or someone will point a finger and say, "Doc I just need you to crack my neck right here." I hear it all the time in and out of practice. Crack this or crack that. And why and how do bones make that cracking sound when they are adjusted?
First of all if we address the phenomenon of sound coming from manipulation of the body parts, it is not the bone that is cracking. In fact nothing is cracking at all.The noise of the manipulation comes from the surfaces of the joint itself. And not all of the body joints are capable of giving up the "cracking sound" when manipulated. Or as we say in chiropractic, the sound comes when the joint is "adjusted." An adjustment is correctly made only with a high velocity but low in impact movement of the chiropractor's hands or instrument which manipulate the joint surfaces between two bones. When needed the specific chiropractic adjustment drives the joint through an improved range of motion (ROM).
Our beautifully and wondrously made bodies have over 300 joints which allow, among other things, movement. Our bodies movement of the bones at the joints allow us to align ourselves in a constant relationship with gravity's perpendicular pull. By the unique ability to upright our bodies and transfer the pull of gravity through the hard bony parts of our skeleton we spend less of our precious food borne energy to do work.
Energy economy is in vogue today, but it has been the mainstay in our survival since the get go. In order to be economic when we move and adopt positions in which to do work from it is essential for the brain to understand where the parts are. Informing the brain where the parts are is one of the functions of the bony joint. The joint with its ligaments and tendons relay the positions of the facets or "faces" of the jointed bones to the brain. The response of the brain to the nerve conducted information from the facets allows a download or upload of the gravitational load upon that joint surface as needed or desired. When working well our brain and nervous systems are able to harmonize hundreds of joins systematically and automatically.
The design of our nervous systems is good and their relationship to the joints supports good health but they can only stay well and good systems if the joints continue to have their full ROM. In our youth we enjoy a buffering from an extended ROM of most of the joints, a suppleness which seems to protect our health but then along comes subluxation. Subluxation is the structural bony misalignment and the subsequent giving up of some of the ROM of a joint. Muscle and other soft tissue distortions along the axis of our bones continue along to the joints altering their dynamics of movement and with that the corresponding information to and from the brain to the body parts.
This loss of information about our body in its quest to do well and work well in our "Garden of Eden" quickly leads to a "mislevering" of the bones and subsequent misloading of our frames causing straining and often spraining of the joints. In effect we are pre-programmed to "shut down" when subluxated and are unable to freely interact with our environment, our garden of Eden. Survival of the fittest ensues and that is usually the realm of the young.
Youthfulness is suppleness. Look about you at the young to see that. Stiff and compromised bodies are seen in the aged although subluxation which causes the look and the stiffening knows no age boundaries. Caused by a variety of stressors the subluxation is ubiquitous, they are everywhere, they are in all of us. We get them from "stress" and that is our body simply responding naturally to any number of the variety of the "stressors" we face on a continual, on an ongoing basis from the crib to the crypt. We get subluxation from trauma, especially early in life. We then grow up with structural distortion causing lifelong ongoing challenges to the nervous systems which labor against losses and lack of information. Our bodies then fail in describing and reacting to the external environment in a timely and nimble manner.
This inability to react quickly and accurately to changes in our immediate environment may be misinterpreted as one being "accident prone" or "clumsy." Or we may be labeled with a "bad back" from our inability to hold actively the parts of our spine as they inappropriately load. We get subluxation from internal stress, stress on our organs or on our arteries and veins. Cramping up and "drawing up tight" is the epitome of stress itself.
So off we go to the chiropractor to get "cracked." The dynamic chiropractic adjustment of the stressed and inappropriately moving through their ROM joints causes us to de-stress. It unwinds us towards a more youthful and supple self. And the "cracking" sound is from the joints releasing nitrogen gas under extreme vacuum negative pressure as the facets or faces of the bones at the joints are driven apart by the high velocity yet low impacting painless and to most very enjoyable chiropractic adjustment. The "cracking sound" is a phenomenon called cavitation. Cavitation occurs when a hollow is suddenly produced within a solid.When a solid and subluxated joint leaps back into function through an adjustment, the popping sound is the creation of an interspace between the facets or the stuck "kissing faces" of the bones at the joint, thereby allowing them to return to a more healthy ROM. And yes my friends it does feel good to be "cracked" and returned to a more supple and youthfully functioning being.
And chiropractic adjustments have been proven to be the best therapy for most back pain as well as extremity and head pain too. So if you're having some of life's little problems and are feeling and displaying the stiffness and loss of your youth as you age, or if you catch your posture changing even if you're young, then consult your chiropractor and have him "crack you up!" Adjustments are safe for all of us from the youngest to the oldest when administered by a licensed and accredited chiropractor.