What's that pop, doc?  |  Health

As a chiropractor, one of the most common questions I get is, “What is that popping noise?” The sound can be intimidating, especially when adjusting your neck. Here’s what to expect during a chiropractic fit – and what that sound is.

The most common treatment option is adjustment. The chiropractor feels (examines by touch) joints and their ability to move relative to one another. A fixed joint or group of joints can cause pain, stiffness, and many other problems. If fixation or joint dysfunction is detected, the range is adjusted. Adjustment does not move the bones into position, but rather opens the joints so they can move better, which relieves stiffness and pain.

You may hear a pop or pop during a setting. This sound is called cavitation and is simply the release of gas in the synovial fluid. Lake visitors may have seen a similar phenomenon with boat propellers. The bubbles that follow your propeller as it spins through the water are caused by the release of gas from the rapidly moving blades.

This release within the joints occurs during adjustment and is similar to the popping of the knuckles. It does this because joints are encapsulated and filled with fluid. There is some air in the fluid, and if the joint is opened during an adjustment, the bubbles will burst and make a clicking or popping sound. The volume or number of popups does not indicate success or reaction to an adjustment.

Studies show that the sound produced during an adjustment can occur on both sides of the joint and can occur multiple times within the same joint. The surfaces of these joints are rarely symmetrical, which can result in multiple popping noises. On the other hand, sometimes you don’t hear a crack, but that doesn’t mean the adjustment wasn’t done properly.

After adjustment, most people are encouraged to return to regular activity or increase their activity level. The goal of customization is to get you back to what you love as quickly as possible.

Musculoskeletal complaints affect more than just the joints, and it’s important to manage your exercise regimen, diet, mental health, and stress levels as well.

One of the benefits of seeing a chiropractor connected to an integrated health system is that we have access to physical therapy, nutritional services, and behavioral medicine. Together with your medical records and imaging examinations, we can create an individually tailored care plan for you.

Curious If Chiropractic Can Help You? You can learn more at EssentiaHealth.org or call the Essentia Health-Wahpeton Clinic at 701-642-2000.

Andrew Zetocha, DC, is a chiropractor at Essentia Health-Wahpeton Clinic.