Why Is There a Popping Sound When A Joint Is Adjusted?

Beautiful young caucasian woman undergoing chiropractic treatment

Have you ever been to the chiropractor and heard a crack during your adjustment? The sound can be a little bit alarming if you don’t know what it is.

Thankfully, the “chiropractic popping sound” is completely normal.

Understanding Your Adjustment

To understand the “chiropractor pop”, you have to know what is happening during your spinal adjustment. Your chiropractor is correcting your subluxations during your chiropractic appointments.

A subluxation is a slight misalignment of the vertebrae, which is part of five primary categories of your spine:

  1. The Osseous (Bone) Component: Encompasses the vertebra which could come out of place due to activity or degeneration.
  2. The Nerve Component: Research shows that a small amount of impact on a nerve can cause the nerve to malfunction and cause pain in the body.
  3. The Muscle Component: The muscles hold the bones in place and the nerves control the muscles. If your nerves are malfunctioning than your muscles will not be able to perform properly.
  4. The Soft Tissue Component: Misalignment of your vertebra causes pressure on the nerve resulting in changes in the soft tissue. This causes tension in the tendons, ligaments, blood supply, and other tissues.
  5. The Chemical Component: With the nerves, muscles, bones, and soft tissue under pressure, you are sure to achieve chemical changes. The chemical changes can cause stress in your brain, or even lead to painful disease and disorders.

A subluxation can cause many problems to your body if left untreated. When your spine is out of place, your spinal nerves are under pressure. Since the nervous system controls all of the functions of the body, any point of your body can be in pain when you are experiencing subluxations.

Your chiropractor locates the subluxations, realigns the vertebrae, and helps relieve your body’s injury. Years of pain and stress can be alleviated within one quick visit. Over a series of appointments, your chiropractor can lead you back to the pain-free life that you thought you had lost.

How does a subluxation occur?

A subluxation happens to most of us at some point or another. Our backs are constantly put into stress from repetitive movements, such as sitting for long periods of time, or poor posture, lifting heavy objects, running, and other everyday activities.

We are prone to experience back pain. Since our spinal cord and brain are the center of the nervous system than the rest of our body feels the pain that is protruded in our backs.

Your subluxation can occur for a number of reasons:

  • Repetitive movements, such as sitting for a long period of time
  • Taking a bad fall
  • Lifting heavy objects or lifting with poor posture
  • Contact sports, such as football or hockey
  • Mental stress
  • Working on your feet all day

The “Chiropractic Pop”

The “chiropractor pop” is called a cavitation. When your chiropractor makes the adjustment, the doctor is releasing pressure between two vertebras. Cavitation is defined as the release of nitrogen gas when it is subjected to reduced pressures between your vertebras.

In other words, cavitation is the reduction of pressure that is stressing your spine. You take stress off your nerves when you remove that pressure.

Many people feel immediate relief when their back is popped. Once the joints are opened, new synovial fluid lubricates the joint surface for healthy joint mobility. The “chiropractic pop” is like pulling apart two sticky surfaces.

What You Can Expect From Your “Chiropractic Pop”

  • Gas being release from your joints
  • Pressure in spine gradient decreases
  • Vertebras move fluidly again

Don’t Be Afraid of the “Chiropractic Pop”!

Lifting and pulling heavy objects, running, and other lifestyle choices can stress our backs. It is natural for our spines to misalign.

The pop stretches your tissue to recover the stress that you have been putting on your body. The “chiropractor pop” is not something that you should be afraid of.

Nevertheless, you can make lifestyle choices that prevent you from creating subluxations, such as these below.

  • Good Posture
  • Regular Exercise
  • Healthy Diet
  • Lifting or Pulling with a Flat Back

With more serious injuries, you might need an invasive treatment, such as prescription drugs or surgery. Chiropractic care can help minor and moderate injuries heal. When that occurs, it is natural to hear the “chiropractic pop”.


The spine can be perceived as a ladder. If one step is broken than there is more pressure on the others to take the weight of the broken step.

This means that the nerves, muscles, and tissues are compensating for that vertebra, which puts them in a strenuous position.

The “chiropractic pop” is the sound of the ladder step being put back into its parallel position to support the other steps.  The popping sound is your spine returning to a healthy position so you can live pain-free again. If that is not a good sound than I don’t know what is!