Is cracking your spine good?

Apparently not. Look what it did to the OP.

It sure feels good.

Aargh! And I attempted to post the thread three times too. The hamsters hate me, I’m telling you…

Fortunately, into the breach steps trusty Notepad.

I’ve been hearing a lot of different answers to the question of joints ‘popping’ or cracking over the years.

First, I was told (in a Thai massage course) that cracking your joints was ALWAYS good (it certainly felt good. Mmmm…massage…). From then on I always cracked anything that felt like it wanted to be cracked (generally my back) at all possible opportunities.

These days, however, people keep telling me it leads to arthritis. They mostly seem to be talking about finger joints (which I don’t do), but still…

Does anyone have the straight dope on this?

I was chronic back cracker for a couple of years. Being an athlete I wondered if cracking it could make me more susceptible to injury or cause me problems. He told me that if it provided relief, as long as I didn’t really wrench my back or my neck (you know how people will put their hands on their chin and twist to get their neck to pop? He said don’t do that), then I would be OK.

For what it’s worth, I’m paralyzed now, but I think that my car accident had more to do with that than my back cracking.

I went to a chiropractor when I was having some back pain about 10 years ago, and in addition to giving me a bunch of stretching exercises to do, he also recommeded stretching and popping my spine to relieve some of the pain. He said that the reduction in pressure created by the stretch causes more blood to rush to the joint, letting the muscles relax and easing the pain a bit. There have been times since then when a stretch that was too painful to do suddenly became easy after giving my back a good (but gentle) popping.

Cecil doesn’t seem to agree with the theory that cracking leads to arthritis, but he doesn’t exactly deny it either.

When I was studying to become an Occupational Therapist, we were taught that popping joints on purpose stretches the ligaments between the bones, and that is what can cause arthritis later on in life.

Gee, I hope it doesn’t cause problems - when I get out of bed in the morning I sound like a giant bowl of Rice Krispies.

When my husband first moved in with me he said I’d roll over at night - KA-POW! KA-POW! KA-POW! KA-POW! KA-POW! KA-POW! - every joint in my back would fire off and he’d think firecrackers had gone off in the bedroom

No back problems (knock on wood), at least not yet, and I’m closer to 40 than 30


But there is conflicting info. on the Net. Some sites say there is no risk for arthritis. And thankfully no one here said arthur-ritis!

Did anyone else read Cecil’s column (posted in Mr2001 response) and notice that sometimes the popping sensation is the result of a ligament snapping over a bony projection? THAT can’t be good…

Oh big whoop. I’ll bet that clapping your hands comes across as just as bad if you describe it clinically, and nobody claims that that’s unhealthy to do ten times a day.

How Knuckle Cracking Works can probably be applied to back in some ways.

Hmmm. A neutral-to-negative spread of opinions. Maybe this is a habit that should join cigarettes in the dustbin of history…

I’m not too worried about theligament-snapping-over-bones issue though - I’m pretty sure I get that too under different circumstances (like lifting something down from a high shelf) and it certainly doesn’t feel dangerous. Wierd, but not dangerous.

Well if you wanted opinions you should have said so. I think it’s goooooood. It’s as satisfying as any sneeze, and it makes my joints feel looser and more flexible. But, I usually try to do it in private. :wink:

Gee, Violet, of course a chiropractor is going to say that. If you can pop your own joints, then what use do you have for them?

But then since chiropractic is founded on pseudoscientific claptrap anyway, I find it hard to take anything they say seriously.

My dad is 60 years old and has been cracking his back all his life (well, at least since a teenager). He has no arthritis and no back problems. Anecdotal evidence. So there. :stuck_out_tongue:

Here’s also some anecdoctal “evidence”, which probalby doesn’t elucidate much. I’ve only recently started having back problems (it runs in the family, basically), finally amounting to a herniated disc. But anyway, in my journey to trying to get better and overall my back being “on” and “off” throughout the past year – whenever I could crack my back, that usually meant that my back felt good (and it woudl feel better after doing so). During my really bad times, when I’d have trouble walking or getting up, I usually could not crack my back. So whether this is any indication or not, I have felt that cracking my back provides relief and to a certain extent, shows the condition of my back. I used to never have problems with my back when swimming, and pretty much everyone on the team could crack his back.

I wasn’t paralyzed, but I was in a car accident back in 1985 and it’s not any better. If anything my back is worse. There’s a lot of play in the joints of my spine. I had two pregnancies and the place where I received the epidural was where I started noticing was where my problems had just begun…if I could turn back time and do it all over again differently I would opt for natural birth! I pop my own back, but the effect of that causes the surrounding muscles and tendons to become sore, but it relieves the tension and I just want it to totally stop! I quit smoking and I tend to be a little nervous. I wonder if this is causing me to continue to try to relieve tension in my back?! Anyone have any suggestions on ‘how I can totally stop this cycle’ that I have started and trying to break free out of?! Is there some exercise or thearaputic rub or heating device I can use to ease up the tension and pain while ‘trying to quit’ cracking my back?!

notperfectyet, the best place to ask for advice about medical conditions is in our “In My Humble Opinion” forum. Since this thread is very old, I’m going to close it.

General Questions Moderator