They concluded that when a spinal vertebra misaligns it forces the synovial fluid to one side of the joint compartment. Synovial fluid is what allows joints to glide smoothly across each other. When the vertebra moves during the adjustment pressure is released and the fluid suddenly returns to its normal distribution inside the joint. The pop or crack is caused by cavitation resulting from the sudden movement of this fluid.
However, when you get adjusted, you may get a slight euphoric feeling at first, which is the release of endorphins and enkephalins into your bloodstream. You also can be followed by soreness later that day if it’s not a regular occurrence for you.
Does an audible release improve the outcome of a chiropractic adjustment? Short answer is: no. See below research article.
Just because the joint pops does not mean the bone moved into place. Nor does it mean it moved out of place. However, if you experience pain when you are twisting and moving on your own... it probably did move out of place. Call a licensed chiropractor to examine you.
gases are released if 10% of the joint vacuum is disrupted (i.e. cracking
your nuckles) similar to the sound of cracking open a can of soda as the
vacuum is opened and the carbon dioxide is released.
the joint capsule or breaking of scar tissue adhesions or both. When you
get adjusted the goal is to provide more motion the the joints that are
moving less than normal. By breaking free these adhesions and creating
more mobility in the joints that are restricted it can help restore normal
function, decrease pain, and decrease stress on the nervous system.
I would love to help you with your question. I always explain it this way
to my patients because some people wonder if the noise that you hear is
actual bone cracking. Well good news, it's not.
Between each spine vertebrae there is a joint space in between with a disc
and nerves coming from each side's of the bones.
In this joint, there is air and more or less pressure for a dysfunction in
As a chiropractor, we are able to find dysfunction and misalignment inside
of those joint and correct them.
So when we adjust we move the air inside the joint and it is like opening a
bottle of champagne. Because there is so much pressure inside, when you pop
the cap it makes a poping sound right?
Well, the same happens inside of the joint space during and adjustment. So
if there was lots of pressure in, you will hear louder or more sounds and
if there wasn't too much pressure, you won't. Sometimes you dont hear a
sound at all.
Remember that it doesn't matter if you hear a sound or not. The adjustment
is still effective and help your body to get back to its optimal state of
health to keep your body in total harmony with your mind and your
Hope this helps,
Enjoy your next adjustment.
Dr. Jessica Grichy, DC
"Because your Well-being Matters..."
When the joints are put back in place and given better motion/mobility
those gases and fluid get released decreasing any restriction caused by the
Here is a MRI video of it happening when a finger is pulled, noise and all. This comes from the University of Alberta, the lead author is a D.C., PhD:
That sound is not your spine "cracking" or "popping" like most people think. That sound is created by gas (in this case, nitrogen) rushing in to fill the partial vacuum created when the joints are slightly separated. Another example of this phenomenon would be the "pop" sound you hear when the cork is taken out of a champagne bottle. Not all chiropractic adjusting techniques produce this noise. In fact, some adjusting techniques use little force and thus produce no noise at all.
Best of luck