The crunching sound that you hear has nothing to do with your bones cracking or rubbing against each other. The sound comes from tiny gas bubbles within the fluid that lubricates your joints. When the joint opens up rapidly, these bubbles get released and pop, causing those sounds.
The biggest problem is the way this self-manipulating affects the spine.
You must consider the following before you unnecessarily place yourself at risk from self-manipulating.
1. Does your neck have disc bulges or protrusions? Are there plaques or anatomical malformations? Some of these risk factors make the spine vulnerable to rotation/twisting forces in the neck. Many of these problems can be identified and planned for with a proper examination, but without one you may be unaware of the quality of your spinal structures.
2. How is the spine currently aligned? Do you know which direction puts you into a better position? Are you moving the right vertebra? Are you pushing the vertebra into a worse position than it already is?
3. Constant Manipulation = Loose ligaments = Poor Stability
As you manipulate your spine, you are causing ligaments in the spine to stretch. When you stretch a rubber band enough times, it eventually loses it’s shape and becomes less stable. Your spinal ligaments work the same way. When people have ligament instability, it leads them down the road where they depend on manipulation to keep feeling good.
It is important to choose a Chiropractor who measures what they are doing to the spine. At S&FCC we focus on neuro-structural correction to help guide the spine to a normal state. It is important to seek the opinion and assessment of a qualified practitioner. It is imperative that the correct vertebra is the one that is adjusted. It is also important that the correct vectors (location and angles) are applied to said vertebra to make a positive correction.
While self-manipulation can cause a temporary feel good sensation it can also create unnecessary hypermobility (too much joint movement) and long term structural problems in the neck.
If you know anyone who self-manipulates please do them a favour and pass this information on.