Pop! Snap, Crack… What’s that popping noise at the chiropractor?
The noises are normal within certain joints of the body and have been linked to a change in pressure within your joint during the adjustments.
The noise is referred to as a synovial fluid cavitation, or “cavitation” for short.
Cavitation occurs when an applied pressure or force separates the surfaces of a synovial joint which creates a reduction in joint pressure.
When the synovial joint has a reduced pressure within the cavity, the synovial fluid within the joint release oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide gasses. Those gasses that are dissolved within the solution are responsible for the pop, snap or crack noise as the gasses escape the synovial solution.
This process is similar to when you uncork a champagne bottle. Champagne contains dissolved carbon dioxide as a chemical to carbonate beverages. Carbon dioxide produces an internal pressure within beverages that are corked, and this internal pressure is released when the cork is opened and the carbon dioxide escapes the liquid.
So, whether you’re popping a champagne bottle or getting adjusted within a synovial joint, carbon dioxide has the chemical characteristics to make a pop, snap or crack as it escapes the liquid.
What happens after the cavitation? In order to answer that question, it’s important to know why the adjustment is taking place at this joint.
Chiropractors locate and facilitate the correction of spinal joints that have characteristics of misalignment compared to the joint above or below, loss of segmental range of motion and neurological interference to the the surrounding nerve tissue. These dysfunctional joints are termed vertebral subluxation.
Subluxation can irritate the nerve tissue around the spine which can lead to a disruption in normal function within the neurological system. When subluxation is left uncorrected, it can disrupt normal function within the body, including the joint itself.
When subluxation is located and the adjustment is facilitated, proper alignment, motion and protection of the delicate neurological system is accomplished. This process may or may not include a synovial joint cavitation depending upon the overall function of the synovial joint and the technique used by the chiropractor who is facilitating the adjustment. Not all chiropractic adjustments are alike!
Now you know the pop, snap, and crack sounds are actually chemical reactions taking place within your synovial joints and not the chiropractic adjustment popping your joints back into place, snapping your tissue or cracking your bones!
Chiropractic adjustments can be gentle and specific, and when facilitated properly, can create a happy environment for normal function.