When you move or twist, you often hear cracking sounds from your back. This may cause you to feel alarmed and raise questions of concern. Why is your back cracking? Should that happen? If you have back pain you may be worried that the cracking means it's getting worse, or you are inflicting injury or damage to your back?
Whilst it may sound worrying, these sounds and cracking noises are usually nothing dangerous. And what’s more, it doesn’t necessarily mean that any structures are out of place or that joints are becoming more worn.
So, what exactly is going on when your back cracks?
Let’s break it down.
One type of sound from the joints is a popping sound, which is simply small air/gas bubbles in the joint fluid that are released during certain movements. This can happen in the neck, back or basically any other joint in the body. It’s just like when people crack their knuckles - you don’t see their fingers becoming deformed!
This is because it doesn’t cause wear and tear, and no structures end up out of place. In fact, several studies have shown that knuckle cracking is not dangerous and doesn’t cause arthritis, contrary to popular belief.
Even if you replicate the sound repeatedly as you move a joint, it's more likely due to other factors such as tendons or muscle snapping over another tissue, like bone. As long as these noises are not provoking pain, there is no cause for concern and you won’t wear anything down.
Oftentimes these noises subside, or you start to pay them less attention, as your pain or condition improves. Cracking is a normal symptom, and is nothing that should cause alarm or concern.
However, if noises from your back do simultaneously provoke a lot of pain or, for example, if the noises start after back surgery, this could be because of a joint dysfunction. In this case, you should get it checked by your doctor or physiotherapist to examine further.
And if you’re struggling with perpetual back pain, check out our blogs on back pain treatment to help you fight it: click here to learn more!