Why Does My Neck Crack And When Should I Become Concerned?

When you turn or tilt your head does your neck make a clicking sound? Have you ever wondered why, and if you should be concerned? After hearing this sound whenever I twisted my neck, I wondered to myself “why does my neck crack?” So I turned to the internet for answers.

After becoming more informed, I realized that maybe I should consult a doctor for help. It turned out getting my neck checked out ended up nipping a serious problem in the bud. I wrote this guide for anyone wondering why their neck was cracking like I was.

Why Does My Neck Crack

Why Does My Neck Crack?

Our necks are composed of seven bones – vertebrae – that the muscles, tendons, and ligaments support. Together, they provide support and mobility to our heads and necks, permitting us to twist, bend and move with no problem. But, when our necks are placed under persistent stress, the neck can make a cracking sound while it is twisting or turning.

Most of the time this is harmless, but if your cracking neck is coupled with pain, you should see the doctor.

Some of the Causes of Neck Cracking

  • 1. Surrounding all of the 7 neck joints is a thick fluid called synovial fluid, which provides lubrication to make movement easier. The synovial fluid includes carbon dioxide and nitrogen gas which forms bubbles. When you move your neck joints, the pressure on these bubbles increases, causing them to pop or burst, which we hear as a cracking sound.
  • 2. Sometimes neck cracking occurs with diseases like arthritis or osteoporosis because the joints in our necks roughen. These medical conditions cause degenerative changes in the bones in your neck that will make your neck crack as you move it.
  • ​3. Sometimes when you have had a previous neck injury neck cracking can occur. This is because your injured neck experiences more stress which leads to cracking.
  • 4. Poor posture, like stopping at a desk for a long amount of time, or hunching over when you sit or walk, can cause your neck to crack. Sleeping on a surface that is uneven or with too many pillows can cause this to happen to.
  • 5. When you exercise without stretching your muscles properly before a workout, overexertion or muscle strain may occur. Lactic acid also may build up in your muscles due to working out too much and combine with a reduction of oxygen during exercise. These factors impair the muscle’s ability to shorten or lengthen and cause a clicking sound.
  • 6. During periods of stress, the shoulder and neck muscles can cramp up. This is because when you experience stress or anxiety, you naturally prop up your shoulders. If you endure this stress for too long, the muscles will begin to spasm.
Why Does my Neck Crack (And When Should I Become Concerned)

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When Should I be Concerned About A Cracking Neck?

In general, joint cracking is not a problem unless it comes with pain. But if you make it a habit, your soft tissue or cartilage can become irritated. Also, there are important blood vessels and nerves running through your neck, so do be careful! You might do better with a stretching routine that treats your body more gently.

If the clicking noise can be heard every time you tilt or twist your head, this can indicate a medical condition that is progressing. The strain clicking places on your vertebrae might be caused by spasms of your back or neck muscles. Sometimes these spasms happen on both ends of your back and neck. The muscle then shortens and pulls on bones of your spine.

Symptoms to Watch Out For:

Why Does my Neck Crack (And When Should I Become Concerned

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  • The cracking sound is coupled with pain as you move
  • The cracking sound is coupled with stiffness or warmth
  • ​The cracking sound is coupled with tenderness in the area
  • ​The cracking sound is coupled with swelling
  • ​You are experiencing pain that causes you to wake up during the night
  • ​You have stiffness and pain that is worse after you first wake up and this pain subsides after about a half hour

What can I do about a cracking neck??

If your neck cracking is mild, you can try these easy remedies

  • Neck exercises. When you work, the back of your neck is often tightly held in position, which causes your muscles to grow shorter, preventing your neck from moving naturally. You can work out these muscles - lower your head down until your chin touches your chest. Keep your head in position as long as you are able to in order to stretch your neck in the back, then release.
  • Moving your joints. Neck joints that are confined and not able to move freely can cause cracking, and the tightness of your muscles also can cause neck pain. Stretch the neck gently in order to address the tension in your neck muscles. If you exercise these muscles, your blood flow will increase in the area, relieving pain.
  • Exercise the Sternocleidomastoid (SCM). The SCM is a large muscle on each side of your neck that can be the cause of pain. Try to stretch your SCM by turning your head as far as you can to one side. Use your hands to keep your head stable while you turn it. Repeat this procedure on the other side.

Over 12 Minutes for Cracking Neck - Do You Know

What Should I Do if My Neck Cracks?

  • 1. Determine if this neck cracking is normal. If you experience pain when you crack your neck, or if your neck cracks every time it moves, consult a doctor.
  • 2. If your neck cracking is mild, try to improve your posture. Make sure you are using an appropriate number of pillows and maintain good posture at work or while seated.
  • ​3. Try the exercises described above to remedy the cracking.
  • 4. If you have any concerns always see a doctor.

Now I know the reason why does my neck crack and after I realized that my neck cracking every time I moved it was a problem, I saw a doctor and found out that I had a more serious condition. If this is a mild problem for you, but still bothers you, the exercises I have described can be quite effective. Do you have any questions about neck cracking? Leave a comment below!

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