The first question or concern about chiropractic for some people can be about the “cracking” or “popping” noise generated by a chiropractic adjustment. This feature seems to scare some people away from chiropractic care. We understand that some people are concerned about the safety of a chiropractic adjustment and worry about what this noise is. Researchers have explained how this sound is produced.
Cavitation, or the audible “cracking” sound followed by a high-velocity, low-amplitude (HVLA) spinal manipulative therapy (SMT), is the result of forces acting on the joint, which increases the joint volume and decrease joint fluid partial pressure, creating a gas bubble as intra-articular gases are drawn out of solution.(1) A similar process that we might all have experience is when we pull a suction cup off the wall and it creates a “popping” sound. It is believed that SMT producing cavitation can relieve pain, relax hypertonic muscles, restore and increase segmental range of motion, and re-establish normal spinal function.(1)
Some underlying pathologies can contraindicate a HVLA manipulation. For example, osteoporosis is a disease that reduce bone density and it is a bone weakening condition.(2) In such cases, we modify our techniques to minimise the risk of potential complications.
At Little Sprouts Chiropractic, all of our chiropractors will take a full medical history and perform a thorough physical examination on your initial visit, therefore we have a better idea of your overall health to tailor a care plan for each individual to maximize your safety and results.
If you, or any of your friends have stepped back from chiropractic care because of the sound of cavitation; please share this blog.
1. Conway P, Herzog W, Zhang Y, Hasler E, Ladly K. Forces required to cause cavitation during spinal manipulation of the thoracic spine. Clinical Biomechanics. 1993;8(4):210-4.
2. Rachner TD, Khosla S, Hofbauer LC. Osteoporosis: now and the future. The Lancet. 2011;377(9773):1276-87.
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