Home/Health/Question of the day: “What makes the popping or cracking sound during a chiropractic adjustment?”

Question of the day: “What makes the popping or cracking sound during a chiropractic adjustment?”

A chiropractic adjustment is a highly controlled, specific and gentle thrust applied by one’s hands to a joint of the body with the intent to restore proper movement, maintain joint health, decrease muscle spasm, remove nerve interference and optimize body function.

An adjustment will often, but not always, result in an audible “popping” or “cracking” sound similar to when a cork is taken out of a champagne bottle or when a soda can is opened. This sound is not your spine or your bones cracking – that would be bad! The sound heard is a release of gas, namely nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide, from within a joint.

Many joints in the human body are known as synovial joints consisting or two intersecting bones with smooth cartilage in between them. A fibrous joint capsule encloses the joint and contains synovial fluid, which helps nourish and lubricate the joint. When an adjustment is applied to a joint, nitrogen gas that was dissolved in the synovial fluid is drawn out of the solution, forming a bubble. When the bubble escapes and pops, this creates the audible sound and this process is called a “cavitation”.

It is important to remember that therapeutic benefits from an adjustment are not dependent on the presence of this audible sound. That is to say that restoration of movement, decreased muscle spasm, reduced nerve interference, and improved body function may be achieved even if no sound was heard.


For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Levi and learn more about the benefits of chiropractic.