Is Joint Cracking Safe?

Recently I came across this cool TEDEd Video on my Facebook newsfeed. I found it interesting as it’s a question I am often asked as a Remedial Massage Therapist. Clients are concerned as they have heard joint cracking or popping can cause arthritis. In the video they explain that Dr Donald Unger cracked the knuckles on his left hand for 50 years and both hands are free of arthritis. Therefore he concluded that it didn’t cause arthritis. So other than your hands, what other joints are being cracked. Is joint cracking safe? Over the years I have worked with Physiotherapists, Chiropractors and Osteopaths. I have asked them all about joint cracking, especially Chiros and Osteos as joint manipulation is part of their treatment techniques.  An interesting thought around cracking necks and backs especially is around the stability of the joints in the spine. Muscles go into spasm as a protective mechanism when something isn’t right. They try to stop you moving to prevent further injury and allow you to seek the right treatment. If those muscles are tight, you will not be able to move the joints into a position where you get that pop.  Who has been to the chiro and they were unable to adjust your spine due to your muscles being too tight? Well this is why, your muscles are protecting something. What does a Chiro or Osteo recommend? They send in their Massage Therapist or refer you to get a Remedial Massage to allow the soft tissues to relax and they can apply their manipilation technique.  Now if you are “cracking” your back or neck yourself, you will be releasing the joints that are already free. If you continue to crack those joints, you make the free ones more unstable and the tight joints remain tight. When a Chiro or Osteo works, they are able to feel which joints need adjustment and they provide a targeted action to release that joint.  So while joint popping may not cause arthritis, consider what it may do to those joints in your spine with repetitive cracking. Seek the right treatment when your neck and back is tight, leaving the joint cracking to the professionals.  If you need to see a Massage Therapist, Contact Us and we can release those muscles in spasm and allow your Chiropractor or Osteopath to do their work.

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