Why you should not self-adjust yourself!
When patients tell me that they crack their own neck and back, it truly makes me cringe. This is a topic that I commonly come across in practice and it surprises me how many people actually do this and how often. If you feel the need to crack your joints consistently, it is because it needs to be adjusted and is stuck.
There can be areas of your spine and into your extremities where there is a lack of motion in one or more direction. This is what is called a restriction or subluxation. There is a certain amount of adaptation where other areas will compensate and pick up the slack for that particular area not moving. These other areas above and below the joint move more and therefore become hypermobile. This hypermobility creates joint laxity and instability due to the stretching of the supportive ligaments. When you self-adjust, you can hear that popping sound and release. The popping noise is created by the negative pressure from the stretching of the joint and releases nitrogen gas. On your own, it is very difficult to find the end range of motion in order to release the joint in the correct direction it needs. You may feel relief due to the rush of endorphins but that is short lived and can initiate a pattern of becoming a chronic self-adjuster. There is definitely that risk of manipulating the wrong joint.
As a chiropractor, we are trained to assess the movement and function of the spine at various levels. Then we find the specific restriction regardless of whether it is through manual or instrument adjusting and adjust accordingly. This can help take pressure off the joint and thus allows for proper nervous system communication at the various spinal levels.
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