Cracking your neck happens when you roll or bend your neck in either direction and a popping sound is heard. Our spine is made up of many bones joined to each other just like any two bones in the body. Neck is made up of seven cervical vertebrae and the popping sound comes from any one of these.
For some people, it is extremely relieving to crack their neck. It is not painful and might sometimes become a habit of a person. Many people crack other joints of their bodies too like knuckles, ankles, hips, toes and lower back. The reason behind neck or any other joint is very simple. These joints in our bodies have liquids or gasses like carbon dioxide and nitrogen filled in them. When a joint is put under pressure, the gas exists from them causing the popping noise.
Cracking your neck sometimes can be considered normal but if it’s made a habit then it’s quite harmful. Many chiropractors use cracking of the neck as a technique as a treatment of their patients. But chiropractors are trained individuals that keep your safety in mind. In general, cases cracking the neck regularly might lead to injuries and tear in the ligaments.
Why is Cracking your Neck Bad?
Yes, the cracking of your neck is bad. The repeated cracking builds up pressure around the joints causing the ligaments to stretch.
If the neck stretching stays constant, then the following conditions can occur:
Cracking your neck constantly can cause perpetual instability. The pressure that is applied to the bones due to constant cracking can excessively stretch the ligaments. These ligaments when stretched leads to instability. This is responsible for buildup of bone bridges in between joints of two vertebrae. Bone bridge is the body’s way of joint stabilization. This can later lead to a condition called osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis has many other symptoms like pain and stiffness in neck is associated with it.
There have been many pieces of evidence showing that constant cracking can increase the chances of strokes in many individuals of age less than 60. Constant neck cracking causes injury in neck, and this injury leads to the breakage of the nerves and as a result the breakage of the arteries or the other blood vessels, finally this leads to bleeding and in formation of clots. The blood clots can either move up to the brain or block the flow of blood to the brain. If the blood is not transferred to the brain, this leads to lack of oxygen. Even though strokes that are caused by neck cracking are minor ones and do not cause a lot of damage but are combined with other factors can even be excessively dangerous. If you feel any symptoms like a headache, dizziness, blurry vision etc. contact your doctor immediately.
Less Mobility in the neck
Cracking of neck causes wear and tear of cartilage around the neck vertebrae. This sometimes leads to arthritis or arthritis-like symptoms. Further, leads to less mobility of the neck and severe pain in some cases. Pain can either be due to osteoarthritis or due to tear of ligaments.
Side Effects of always Cracking your Neck
The cracking of the neck constantly is the root cause of many different side effects in the body.
The neck cracking can have the following side effects:
Most people crack their neck in order to get the feeling of content and to relieve pain. It is a very wrong belief that neck cracking is good also constant neck cracking can leads in tearing cartilage around the vertebrae and disease like osteoarthritis. This results in constant pain and discomfort.
When a person cracks his or her neck constantly, there is a big chance that it might lead to an injury. The chiropractors are trained professionals who use right technique of neck cracking. If the wrong technique is used, then neck injury like breakage of ligaments, breakage of blood vessels and other injuries can occur.
Stiffness is either caused due to pain in the neck or when the neck has lost its mobility. In any case, there is constant stiffness in the neck and you cannot move it.
How to Stop Cracking your Neck?
Neck cracking is a very bad habit and needs to be stopped immediately. It might lead to other big problems. Even though it might cause short-term relief in a person, avoiding it is better than regretting later. Forming healthy habits is the best way to stop neck cracking. Since stress in the neck is what causes neck cracking, taking out time for an interesting stress relieving activity can be very useful. Also, including some relaxation exercise in daily routine can be helpful. In addition to this quitting smoking, exercising regularly and keeping the body fit can help immensely in stopping the neck cracking.
How to Relieve the Pain?
There are a few different things that a person can try to relieve the pain after neck cracking, They are as follows:
Heat and cold
Using heat or cold compress can help to relieve the pain and both of these methods are considered to be equally effective. So, anyone can be chosen depending on the comfort. In the case of heating, apply heat to the affected area for twenty minutes, repeat this procedure every two-three hours until the pain diminishes. If cold treatment is what you are opting for, do not apply ice directly on the skin, but wrap the ice in a towel or a thick cloth and apply it on the affected area. Repeat it till you get relief.
There are some painkillers that can be used, any good quality painkiller available at your nearby pharmacy can be used. If you feel that your pain is accompanied by inflammation, then some anti-inflammatory drugs can also be taken.
As soon as you start feeling stress or stiffness in your neck, start moving the area. Do not move the area with force. Learn some light stretches or start giving yourself a massage or consult a chiropractor who can help you relieve the stress off your body.