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Ottawa Chiropractor Explains the “Cracking” Sound with Chiropractic Adjustments

Dr Groulx Explains What the Cracking Sound IS
and What it IS NOT!

What is that “cracking sound”?

Hey, it’s Dr. G. What is that “cracking sound” that you hear every time I push on your spine or I perform a chiropractic adjustment?

And that’s a fair question because I remember the first time that I heard that.

It kinda freaked me out.

I remember an episode from The Simpsons. I wasn’t really ever a Simpsons fan, but I did see the episode about chiropractors. Homer said, “Hey, you’re not going to crack my back, are you?” and the chiropractor said, “No, no, we don’t crack your spine, we perform adjustments. Now lay on the table and you’re going to hear a loud cracking sound.”

So here’s what the cracking sound actually is.

It’s a little bit like opening a can of pop, the sound you hear when you open a can of pop. Really what it is – is gas that’s moving from one side of the joint to the other, and what it is not is bones grinding together, anything snapping or grinding. If that were the case, we would only be creating more damage. And you’re right, it would not be any good for you.

So the way you can demonstrate this for yourself at home, don’t take my word for it – is if you can crack your knuckle.

Now, I know a lot has been said about, “Don’t crack your knuckles, you’re going get arthritis.” It’s not really true.

So I don’t know if you’ll be able to hear this, but what I’m going do is – I’m just going to pull on any one of my fingers and you can try this yourself. If you pull on your finger – [laughs] I can just hear my daughters right now – if you pull on your finger, you’re going to see that you’re actually pulling the joint apart slightly. And if you listen carefully, you might hear it on the microphone. I don’t know if you can hear that, but there’s that cracking sound.

The technical term, by the way, is called joint cavitation.

So what I’ve done is I’ve actually separated the joint and still created that sound.

So if I was really grinding things together, what I’d be doing is squeezing my joint together and that’s not the case. So it’s the same thing in your spine.

Around every joint in the spine there’s a little joint capsule. So every joint is wrapped in a some kind of a ligament, and it’s its own closed contained unit. And when we move the joint, there’s a little bit of nitrogen gas, nitrogen and some other gases that move from one side of the joint to the other very rapidly.

And that is what makes a cracking sound.

I’m Dr. Paul. I’ll see you in the next video.

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