What’s that Sound? Frequently Asked Questions about the Chiropractic Adjustment


woman having her neck adjusted by a chiropractor

It can be a little discouraging for a chiropractor like me, but when many people think about the form of medical care I practice, the first thought they have is of popping and cracking sounds.

Snap!  Crackle! Pop!

They think of me as a “bone cracker”, which is not really what I’m here to do, in all truth.  And frankly, there are a lot of misconceptions afoot about what chiropractors do and how we do it.  So, this post “What’s that sound?  Frequently asked questions about the chiropractic adjustment”, seeks to put those misconceptions to rest.

What Adjustments Are

Adjustments are also referred to as spinal manipulation therapy (SMT).  Adjustments are either performed manually or achieved with the assistance of a chiropractic instrument.

Problem areas are targeted by sudden, gently and precisely applied force.  Adjustments aren’t violent or painful.  They’re done quickly and with the sensitivity years of training and education provide.

The goal of this medical procedure is to mitigate subluxations, which occur when vertebrae are out of alignment, creating pressure on the adjacent nerves, which causes pain.  That pain can reduce mobility and make getting through the day unpleasant.

What the chiropractic adjustment seeks to do is to restore balance to the structures of the spine, eliminating interference affecting the nervous system.  Adjustments improve the overall function of the spine and general health.

Now, What’s That Sound?

Let’s address that “snap, crackle, pop” thing, shall we?

First of all, not all adjustments produce a sound.  When they do, the sound you hear is the release of what’s called a “cativation”, or a small bubble of gas (consisting of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and oxygen).  This is the joint’s response when they’re moved to their most extreme range of motion.

This is something a competent chiropractor will let you know in advance of your first adjustment.  Think of it as the same sound you hear when you crack open a beer – that’s the sound of gas under pressure being released.  It’s the same with adjustments!

Does It Hurt?

While some patients may feel achy or sore following an adjustment (as their musculature begins to return to normal), the process itself is painless.  You’re sore after the gym or a workout because your muscles have been pushed to keep them strong.  The soreness experienced by some patients after an adjustment is comparable.

What most patients find, though, is that an adjustment serves to relieve nerve pain, due to the realignment of the spine which has been achieved.

The best part of chiropractic care is that it’s tailored to the specific needs of the patient.  With careful palpation, chiropractors get to the root of the problem, often using this technique in tandem with imaging diagnostics.

Back & Body Medical

As a chiropractor, I’m proud to work with a multi-disciplinarian team, encompassing sports medicine, physical therapy and acupuncture.  Back & Body is an award-winning, one-stop pain relief clinic, offering our patients superior care and the convenience of myriad therapies under one roof.

Contact me for more information.








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