What is Neck Cracking?

Neck cracking sound is a clicking or popping sound caused by quick motions of the neck to loosen the ligaments and joints in the neck. Neck cracking is a common habit and many do it themselves or can be done by a chiropractor.

Joint cracking of other moveable joints such as knuckles, toes, ankles, knees, shoulders and lower back is also common. Neck cracking is a common practice used by chiropractors for cervical spine re-adjustment.

What are the Causes of Neck Cracking?

  • Neck movement Tendons and ligaments connect the bones and muscles in the joint. If a tendon or ligament moves out of place it may make a cracking or clicking sound when it comes back to its original position. Neck cracking sound may also be due to tightening of the ligaments or reduced elasticity of the neck muscles.
  • Osteoarthritis Joints degenerate due to the aging process and the protective cartilage gets thinner. This causes the adjacent vertebral bones to rub against each other and make a grinding sound. Also, if a joint is inflamed, the joint surface may become irregular and make a noise when the joint moves.
  • Escaping gas There is fluid in the joints that helps the bones and tissues to move smoothly. This fluid also contains gases such as oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. When the joint is stretched, gas is rapidly released in the form of tiny bubbles and causes the characteristic joint cracking sound.
  • Lack of mobility


  1. Degenerative Neck Conditions - (https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16913-degenerative-neck-conditions)
  2. Vertebral artery dissection in a patient practicing self-manipulation of the neck John S. Mosbya and Stephen M. Durayb - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3315865/)
  3. Harvard Health Publishing - (https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/how-to-soothe-a-sore-neck)

Latest Publications and Research on Neck Cracking

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