You’ve probably heard it before – that satisfying, almost therapeutic “pop” or “crack” that accompanies a chiropractic adjustment. But have you ever wondered what’s really going on when your back or neck cracks like that? Is it even actually cracking? Trust us, there’s more to a chiropractic adjustment than just a strange sound. In this article, we’ll delve into what exactly is happening during a chiropractic adjustment and what that cracking or popping sound actually is.

Chiropractic adjustments

Let’s start with the basics. What is a chiropractic adjustment? A chiropractic adjustment is a hands-on therapeutic technique chiropractors use to address issues related to joint mobility, alignment, and function. During an adjustment, a chiropractor applies controlled, precise pressure to specific joints in the body, with the aim of restoring normal joint movement, relieving pain, and promoting overall well-being. This is where you’d hear that cracking noise.

So what causes the cracking sounds during an adjustment?

The chiropractic cracking sound, often heard during adjustments, is caused by a phenomenon known as joint cavitation. When a chiropractor applies a controlled force to a joint, such as the spine, the pressure within the joint rapidly changes. This abrupt change in pressure causes dissolved gases, primarily nitrogen and carbon dioxide, to form tiny gas bubbles within the synovial fluid that lubricates the joint. When these bubbles rapidly form and collapse, they create a popping or cracking sound, similar to the noise made when opening a can of soft drink.

After a chiropractic adjustment

After a chiropractic adjustment, you can expect a range of responses as your body adapts to the manipulation. It’s common to experience a sense of relief and increased mobility in the area, often accompanied by reduced pain or discomfort. Some individuals might feel immediate changes, while for others, improvements may be more gradual. Occasionally, mild soreness or stiffness might occur, similar to post-exercise sensations, as your muscles and joints readjust to their new alignment. Hydration and light movement can help alleviate such effects.


No, not all adjustments create this sound due to differences in gas levels, joint mobility, techniques used, and joint characteristics. Remember, the sound is just one aspect of the overall experience, and its presence or absence doesn’t necessarily reflect the effectiveness of the adjustment.

No, it’s generally not recommended to intentionally crack your own joints. Manipulating your joints without proper knowledge and technique can lead to injury or joint instability. It’s best to always leave the chiropractic adjustments to your chiropractor!

No, the cracking sound you hear during a chiropractic adjustment results from gas bubbles being released within joints due to changes in pressure. No bones or joints are actually cracked!