What is the “cracking” sound during an adjustment?

The cracking sound is called cavitation. Put simply, the sound is created during a chiropractic adjustment when gas is formed in between the joint surfaces. A healthy joint can move in normal, full range of motion, while a tight joint has a smaller range of motion. One of the goals for an adjustment is to increase the range of motion, which is done by taking the tight joint to the end of its range then performing the adjustment. When a joint moves into a far range of motion, the joint suctions air from the joint fluid and it creates the cracking sound. It is benign and really does not have much to do with the true goal of an adjustment which is to restore better motion to a restricted joint.

You may have heard that cracking your joints can cause osteoarthritis, however there is no evidence of a correlation between the two. With this being said, you shouldn’t continue to crack your joints. Over time, your knuckles, toes, back or neck will loosen the surrounding ligamentous and muscular structure from cracking, which may make the joint more prone to injury. This is why it is important for all adjustments to be performed by a trained, licensed professional chiropractor.