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Why Does Your Neck Crack?

By Sara Butler

At some point, most people will hear funny noises coming from their neck in the form of grinding or cracking. It’s usually painless and doesn’t mean anything serious. But for some people, these cracking and grinding sounds can be accompanied by pain. And that’s when you need to say to yourself, “Houston, we have a problem.” Here’s what causes those strange noises and possibly pain, too, and how your chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic can help.


The proper term for the grinding or popping noises you hear is crepitus. It can occur in any joint of the body and because the neck has so many joints in such a relatively small space, neck cracking, popping, and snapping are pretty common. The most common reasons for crepitus in the neck are:

  • Pressure changes - The joints in your neck are bathed in a substance called synovial joint fluid. When the joints move and bubbles are created in the fluid, sounds are created
  • Tendon or ligament movement - Those snapping sounds can also be attributed to ligaments or tendons moving over bones in the neck
  • Bone grinding – This isn’t a very common cause of neck cracking or grinding, but it does happen and can be quite painful

When Neck Cracking is Serious

Very generally, noises coming from the structures in your neck don’t always mean there’s a problem. But if any of the following are accompanying these sounds, make sure to see the chiropractor as soon as possible:

  • Swelling or pain - Crepitus accompanied by swelling or pain might be a sign of an inflammatory process, such as arthritis
  • Recent injury or accident - If you’re in a car accident or had another type of accident or injury and your neck begins to make these sounds, get it checked out by a medical professional
  • Constant sounds - Hearing sounds sometimes can be normal, but hearing sounds constantly when the joint is moved could be an indication of joint dysfunction or restriction.

How the Chiropractor Can Help

The chiropractors at The Joint can do a full examination to help find the root cause of any sounds you may find concerning. It could be something simple or something more complicated, but you can trust that your chiropractor has the experience and the expertise to identify the problem and create a customized treatment plan for you.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Aurora, Colo.

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