Hey, friends. Dr. Marc Fondino here with Davidson Chiropractic. I hope you're doing well. It's been a chaotic and mentally draining couple of weeks withTropical Depression Florence. We are keeping all of you, your family, and friends that may have been impacted in our thoughts and prayers this week. [...]
I wanted to talk to you today about a frequently asked question in my office, "What's that popping sound or that cracking sound that occurs during the adjustment?" Well, basically that cracking or popping sound you hear when a chiropractor provides a manipulation is nitrogen liquid being released as a gas at the moment that we've taken a joint to its "end range". So, similar to cracking your knuckles, if I take my knuckle and distract the joint, give it a quick little pull, you may hear an audible little pop. A sign that we're taking that joint, in this case the knuckles, to end range, to that last little bit of space and going just beyond that, and that's called "the paraphysiological space." Don't get caught up in the terms, but that's the way we are improving range of motion.
Now, when I do that with a spinal joint, obviously I first examine the patient to make sure they are lacking range of motion in a spinal joint. And then apply a similar type of force by taking that joint to end range, whether it be laying a patient on their side or laterally bending the neck and taking that joint just beyond its normal movement and then applying a light force to improve range of motion of that joint, and thereby decreasing pain. Similar to you going back into your circuit breaker box and basically resetting the circuits. If I have a light out in this room, one way to fix it is to actually go to the circuit breaker box, and reset it. It decreases pain, or in this case, turns the lights back on. And then we have improved range of motion, decreased pain, and decreased muscle spasm.
Now, the difference between one of you SELF-adjusting is this: Yes, can I probably take my neck to adjust it and also get an "audible pop"? I can, but most likely I'm going to be causing too much motion at a segment that's already has too much motion. For instance, there areas of the neck and the upper back that have a tendency to be hypermobile, (have too much motion) and there are areas of the spine that are hypomobile (have too little motion). This is usually due to poor posture from sitting at a desk all day, sitting in these forward rolled postures looking at phones and computers. So we tend to see our upper back or mid-back become very stiff and rigid. The low back at times can be actually hypermobile, too much motion. We see the upper cervical, the part of the neck just below the base of the skull, has too little motion, but mid-neck has too much motion.
That's why we see these chronic repetitive type stress injuries and subsequent low back pain, and neck pain. But when a patient says, "Oh, I feel better by leaning back and kind of popping my own low back or turning my head and twisting my own neck," what they're doing is getting too much motion at a segment that's already moving too much. Then we can create instability in the spine (causing ligaments and stabilizing muscles to become lax and overstretched) and cause more wear and tear at that level.
So a chiropractors job is to DETERMINE what joints are lacking motion, in this case, the upper cervical spine mostly and the mid-back, RESTORE motion in those segments, STRENGTHEN the areas that have too much motion, STABILIZE them by using some good core midline exercises, and then we BRING BALANCE BACK into the spine so to speak. In conclusion, I don't recommend self-adjusting, nothing good comes out of it.
However, if you're going through range of motion a and you get a pop, no harm, no foul. But I would not go in there and put any type of force into your spine. That's a no-no. Don't do that. Just don't do it. Stop, please. =)
If you are having any type of pain, discomfort, lacking the ability to move like you want to when you're performing any type of workout, or you're just finding it uncomfortable to sit at your desk all day, give me a call. Shoot me an email. That's what I am here for. I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have and I look forward to hearing from you. So until next time, have a great day and a great week. See you soon.
Author: Marc Fondino
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