Neck cracking is common, and I’m sure once in your life time you have experienced this, after twisting your head from side to side. I know you might be wondering the reason behind your neck cracking. Is it an issue you should be concerned about? The sound from the cracking are painless and do not indicate anything serious. However, if it is accompanied by pain and swelling it shows a serious problem that needs professional advice.
Causes of Neck Cracking
Crepitus also known as neck cracking, occurs on the movable joints in the neck. The joints have an oily like fluid known as synovial. The fluid helps the joints to move freely. There is no exact reason to why neck cracking occurs but below are reasons that could make your neck crack.
- Synovial Joint Fluid Pressure Changes
Studies reveal that bubbles form in the fluid in between the joints. When pressure is increased, the bubbles burst to produce the cracking sound.
- Movement of Ligament or Tendon Around the Bone
Another possible reason for the cracking sound can be caused by snapping sounds of ligaments and tendons as they move around or over the bones in the neck region.
- Bone Grinding
Bone grinding happens on rare occasions, but it is possible. The bones can grind on each other when the cartilage is worn out. This happens individuals suffering from osteoarthritis. The condition progresses with age and gets worse in a case of an injury.This could cause the cracking sound that is accompanied by pain and also limited neck motion. The cracking sound occurs in every neck movement. This cracking sound is quite different from the one caused by bubbles in the fluid in between the joints. It occurs on every motion while the other one occurs after around 20 minutes after another cracking can be heard again.
Read more: Stiff Neck: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
When Neck Cracking Needs Medical Attention
In general, neck cracking does not need any medical attention. However, if neck cracking is accompanied with the below conditions, seek medical advice immediately.
- Swelling Accompanied With Pain
Osteoarthritis might cause neck cracking that is accompanied with pain and swelling. Also, this can also be a result of an infected joint or an inflammatory process.
- Accident or Injury
When neck crepitus occurs after an accident or trauma, you should seek professional medical help immediately. A car accident or trauma on the neck can bring about structural changes of the cervical vertebrae that need to be addressed by a qualified doctor.
- Neck Cracking is Frequent
A joint function may be the reason to frequent neck cracking. The cracking sound can be felt every time you turn your neck. If the pain is felt as you move your head, this even shows a more serious pain.
- Recent Neck Surgery
You might hear the sound of your neck cracking after surgery. Your doctor can share with you that this is common as long as no pain is experienced. It is normal for your neck to crack for weeks after surgery is normal and should not worry about it.
Can Neck Cracking Cause Serious Problems
Neck cracking is common, and most people do it in order to releases tension, while others do it as a habit to relax the tight neck muscles. As much as the habit is common, can it wear out the joints and may be brought about a condition?
Research shows that repeated cracking of joints is not harmful to anyone health and does not bring about arthritis. However, studies reveal that cracking of joints does not lead to loosening of a ligament and cannot loosen them.
In case neck cracking is accompanied by pain, dizziness or lightheadedness, tingling or numbness effect, consult a doctor immediately.