Spinal Manipulation – What’s the Crack?

One of the techniques our osteopaths in clinic employ is spinal manipulation. I find it’s met with glee or fear at first mention, depending on the sensibilities of the patient on the table. Obviously, any technique that involves moving the patient quickly and with precision is open to human error, but of the thousands of manipulations performed at our clinic over the years, the outcomes generally are great; in fact they’ve been excellent according to our 2018 patient survey!

So, why do patients sometimes fear spinal manipulation? This blog is here to myth bust the cracks!

 

  1. That noise is not your bones bumping together!

Actually, it’s the opposite! When you take the satnav sucker off the windscreen in the car, it makes a popping noise, right? If you do it in exactly the right way, at the right speed that is. And that’s all joint manipulation is, at it’s core. We can move the bones slowly, and not get a pop – or we can separate them at the right speed, timing and range to make a popping noise. The pop really doesn’t mean much more than that!

 

  1. The cracking noise hurts!

Again, quite the opposite. Some studies have shown a natural analgesic effect is experienced after joint manipulation – it’s very helpful considering most of the spinal joints Osteopaths choose to manipulate are restricted in movement and tender to touch. The natural painkilling chemicals released after a manipulation technique can provide a patient with the temporary pain relief to encourage them to start moving their spine correctly again, helping to break down compensatory patterns of movement.

 

  1. Cracking your joints gives you arthritis!
    Cracking your own joints with bad technique might lead to ligament damage, but there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that joint manipulation leads to arthritis. Joint manipulation stretches the synovial capsule of the joint, promoting the renewal of the synovial fluid inside. This fluid contains all the oxygen and nutrients your cartilage needs to stay healthy – so it seems mobilisation and manipulation are actually good for the long term health of your joints!
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