Why Does My Back Crack So Much?
Many people can crack their back, either on purpose, or just during normal every day movements. But what does it mean? Read on to learn when cracking your back is something to be concerned about, and when it's no big deal.
What is the Cracking Sound?
The cracking sound is something that medical professionals call crepitus. It usually comes from your joints, but it can also come from soft tissue in your body such as tendons, ligaments, or bursae. There are two types of crepitus depending on what causes it. The two types of crepitus include:
- Cavitation crepitus: Can occur during regular movement or when the spine moves towards the end of its range of motion, causing a pop or cracking noise. This form of crepitus is normally painless and should generally not cause concern.
- Arthritic crepitus: This type of crepitus is usually caused by wear and tear within joints, the result of osteoarthritis. It is normally accompanied by a click or snapping noise, or you may feel a grinding sensation.
Where Does the Cracking Sound Come From?
The cracking sound that your back makes usually comes from one of the following sources?
- Facet joint: This is the joint between your vertebrae. When the surfaces of the facet joint develop rough edges, they can make a grinding noise when rubbing together. The grinding noise is indicative of deteriorated cartilage, likely from arthritis. In severe cases, the deterioration of the facet joint can cause bone to grind on bone.
- Facet joint capsule: This is where cavitation usually occurs, causing the crack or popping noise. Cavitation is when the bubbles form and collapse within the joint fluid.
- Connective tissue: If the vertebral muscles experience spasms, if the tendons become rough, it can produce a cracking noise.
- Disc: A cracking noise can be made if a fragment of one of your discs moves.
When is the Cracking Noise Normal and When is it Harmful?
If the cracking noise isn't painful, and if it can be repeated in a few minutes, it's usually not harmful. Conversely, if there is pain associated when your back cracks, it's potentially something to be concerned about. The sounds associated with painful back cracking are sometimes the result of damage to soft tissue, arthritis, or deterioration.
If pain accompanies your back cracking, you should seek out medical attention. A spine specialist can help to diagnose and treat the underlying problem that may be causing your back to crack.