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What people often refer to as "back cracking" is medically termed spinal manipulative therapy, or a spinal adjustment. Spinal manipulation is the specialty of doctors of chiropractic (DC), but is also increasingly being performed by doctors of osteopathy and physiotherapists, especially as research continues to show areas where spinal manipulation has value. Research has definitivly shown that spinal manipulation is effective for the treatment of many causes of Back pain, neck pain, some kinds of headaches, and some extremity joint conditions (eg: carpal tunnel). Spinal manipulation can also act as a form of short-term pain relief for painful conditions. There is also increasing evidence that is suggesting that spinal manipulation will help with sciatica, mid and upper back pain, dizziness, herniated disks, etc. Anecdotal evidence (weak evidence) suggests that spinal manipulation may be effective for SOME cases of infantile cholic, Asthma, dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps) and hypertension (see reference below).

It should be noted that "cracking" your own back will likely not have the same therapeutic benefits of an adjustment performed by a skilled professional. Recent research has suggested that the "cracking" sound that comes from an adjustment of a joint has no therpeutic benefit in itself. It is currently thought by researchers that the high velocity and low amplitude stretch of proprioceptive musculature that surrounds the joint is what induces at least some of the therapeutic effect. Thus, simply "cracking" your own back by twisting yourself, etc. will not result in the same benefits as a proper adjustment by a skilled professional. Further, despite the fact that it is not dangerous if you are a young and healthy individual, there are some risks associated, such as fracture, sprain, strain, etc. These risks are very low when an adjustment is performed by a skilled professional, but when performed by yourself, or by another unskilled person, the risks increase. Although, even when performed by the unskilled, the risks tend to be relatively non-severe for young and healthy individuals.


Bronfort G, Haas M, Evans R, Leininger B, Triano J. "Effectiveness of manual therapies: the UK evidence report". Chiropractic & Osteopathy 2010;18(3).

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โˆ™ 2011-02-20 14:35:29
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Q: What are medical reasons for back cracking?
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