I often get asked this question by patients, “Dr. Wright, is it bad if I crack my own neck or back?” I usually respond with another question, such as, “Do you do your own dentistry?”
To which they answer, “No”. I then ask, “Why not?” They reply, “Because I don’t know what I am doing”. My response is then, “You don’t mess with your teeth because you don’t know what you’re doing but you will mess with your spine? Your teeth are perfectly replaceable and non life-threatening. Your spine is completely irreplaceable and very much life-threatening, at the very least life-altering. So, since you can see the damage you do to your teeth you won’t mess with them, but since you can’t see the damage you do to your spine you have no problem messing with it?” Many times they answer something like ,”I didn’t think about it that way. But it feels good when I pop it.” Again, I respond, “Do you have any idea which bone you’re moving, or which way you’re moving it, or if it even needs to move in the first place? Since when is it ever a good idea to be random when it comes to health care? Would you ever go to a dentist that just randomly starts drilling your teeth and filling them with enamel without ever checking first to see if it needs it? Would you go to a surgeon who just cuts you open and starts randomly removing body parts?” The common answer is, “No”. Spine care, Chiropractic care, is no different. When a joint is popped it stimulates the brain to release endorphins, causing us to feel good for a few minutes until the effects of the endorphins wear off. Thus leading to feeling like it needs to be popped again. This effect often misleads people into thinking that the random popping is good.
A perfectly healthy joint doesn’t pop. A newborn baby’s spine doesn’t pop at first. It usually starts popping when it’s a few months old and has spent a lot of time laying in a car seat or being held in less than ideal positions. Popping is a sign of dysfunction. Properly applied Chiropractic methods focus on the correct positioning (alignment) of each vertebrae and the smooth function (biomechanics) of each joint. It is not the popping that fixes the spine. It is the restoration of proper spinal alignment and biomechanics that is the key to a healthy spine. This can be accomplished by a trained chiropractor using the hands directly on the spine or by using specialized adjusting instruments. Again, the key to success is being accurate and thorough in evaluation and treatment.
So, is it bad to pop your own spine? Absolutely! It is to the spine as doing our own dentistry would be to our teeth. Even though your intentions are good, you will always pay for the damage you cause… eventually.
By: Loren Wright, D.C.