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Moving Toward Better Health

The official blog of Konicki Schumacher Chiropractic


Cracking Joints Does Not Cause Arthritis

Posted by Dr. Tom Konicki
Dr. Tom Konicki
Dr. Thomas Konicki earned his B.S. in Biology at the University of Cincinnati and then went on to the Los Ange...
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in Chiropractic Care

Question: I am afraid that I will get arthritis in my spine when my chiropractor cracks my back. After all, doesn't cracking your knuckles give you arthritis?

Answer: There is no evidence that cracking your back or knuckles causes arthritis. In fact, a new study shows it may actually help prevent arthritis and loss of flexibility.

Dr. Tyler Cymet and colleagues from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore studied osteoarthritis in 100 men and women whose average age was 59. Osteoarthritis is "wear and tear" arthritis that typically affects the spine, fingers, hips and knees.
Dr. Cymet compared arthritis in those that crack their joints and those who didn't. People who said they cracked their neck, back and other joints had less osteoarthritis than those who didn't. Dr. Cymet says "There is no evidence that cracking your joints does any damage". It may in fact be protective.

Cracking may be a little bit like stretching. I often tell my patients that it is like an exercise program for the joint that gets cracked.

What causes the cracking noise? The most accepted theory is that it is a gas release. Our joints have synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints, much like oil in your car. When you move a joint to a certain range, it creates a vacuum. This then allows nitrogen gas to escape from the synovial fluid, leaving the liquid phase and entering the gas phase. This results in the cracking noise or "cavitation".

Once a joint cracks, it usually takes up to 20 minutes to be able to crack it again. That is, there has to be enough nitrogen gas to be released.

So why is cracking a joint helpful and can help prevent arthritis? Joints need motion to stay healthy. Cracking increases the motion and mobility in that particular joint. When this happens, the cartilage is massaged, helping it to absorb nutrients and get rid of waste. Cartilage breaks down when joints are not moved. The end result can be bones grinding on bones causing inflammation, pain and eventually arthritis.

Chiropractors are trained to detect misalignments in your spine as well as other joints of the body. We call these misalignments "subluxations." When a joint is out of alignment, there is more wear and tear, resulting in eventual arthritis.
When a chiropractor cracks your back, it is called an adjustment. We accomplish two things with an adjustment - - align your spine and secondly, introduce motion. In this way, we help keep your joints moving and healthy.

On a personal note, this has worked for me. My wife--who is also my chiropractor-- has regularly adjusted my neck and back for 20 years. I am pleased to report that I have no arthritis in my spine at the ripe old age of 52.

Copyright © 2008 - Konicki Schumacher Chiropractic. All rights reserved.

Dr. Tom Konicki is a board certified chiropractic orthopedist and has practiced for many years in South Dayton. You can reach him at www.kschiro.com or mail your questions to Ask the Chiropractor, 2165 Miamisburg-Centerville Road, Dayton, Ohio 45459.

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