Is a popping sound normal during an adjustment?

As a patient of chiropractic care, you’ve most likely experienced an audible popping or cracking sound the moment particular areas of your spine receive a spinal adjustment. But what causes this sound? Is it normal? And should it be heard with every adjustment?

The noise you hear is not coming from the spinal bones that are being adjusted; rather the sound comes from synovial fluid, a natural lubricant that is found in every joint in the body. This fluid contains dissolved gasses that have formed tiny bubbles within the fluid.

During a chiropractic adjustment vertebral joints are slightly separated as the vertebra is moved back into proper position. This movement releases the built-up pressure on the fluid and gasses within the joint and creates a “pop” similar to the release of pressure when a cork comes off a bottle of champagne. It is a natural process and not harmful in any way.

Not all adjustment techniques produce a popping noise, so it is impossible to judge the quality of a chiropractic adjustment based upon the noise, or lack of noise, created at the time of adjustment.

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