Causes of Severe Back Cracking and Remedies to Help

Having your back crack can actually be a pleasant experience, but if it cracks all the time you may wonder why. Your spine is made up of vertebrae and cushions or discs in between. This helps to support your body and helps you move around to do what you need to do. If this happens more often, you may start to become concerned. Here are some explanations for why your back may crack so much.

Why Does My Back Crack So Much?

Cracking is very natural and is caused by the soft tissues moving across each other or across the bones. When they move, they may make a cracking or popping sound. It is usually just a normal occurrence in response to movement and not something worrisome. 

1. Pressure

The vertebrae and discs in your back are actual tiny joints that contain fluid to lubricate them. This is known as "synovial fluid." This fluid can actually build up gasses out of carbon dioxide, oxygen, and nitrogen. The popping sound is actually buildup gas being released from the pressure build up. This happens when the capsule between the joints is moved in a certain direction or stretch out a little bit. The gasses take time to build-up before you can pop them again. Think about when you crack the knuckles in your hand. It is nearly impossible to crack the same knuckle twice in a short amount of time. Some people may build up gasses in their back quickly so the popping sound occurs more often.

2. Normal Joint Movement

It is entirely possible that the joints in your back just crack with normal joint movement. When you twist, turn or bend, your vertebrae move with you, but sometimes may slip and be slightly off center. This causes a popping sound as the tendons and vertebrae slip over each other. You may feel this in any area of your back from the top to the bottom. It is very common in people who have hypermobility and laxity of the joints.

3. Arthritis

One condition that may cause excessive popping in the spine is arthritis. This is because the cartilage that cushions the vertebrae begins to break down over time. This condition should be evaluated by a doctor and treated because the more the cartilage breaks down the worse the condition gets. Arthritis is the one condition that can cause pain when the back cracks. In this case, you may need treatment.

How to Reduce the Cracking in Back

If you are asking, "Why does my back crack so much and what can I do about it?" it is possible to do that at home. Only do these measures if you have not had any back injury and you are not in any pain. Try these techniques:

1. Stretching

Tightness can cause the tendons and muscles in the back to pop more often. You can try some simple easy stretching exercises to loosen the muscles. Don't overstretch until you feel pain or it may make things worse.

2. Increase Fluids Intake

Fluids are needed to lubricate the joints. Excessive back popping may be a buildup of gasses in the joint due to low fluid levels. If you notice more popping than usual, try increasing your fluid intake for a day or two and see if it goes away.

3. Eat for Joint Health

Try to include foods in your diet that promote good joint health. Foods that contain substances that act like natural anti-inflammatories include:

  • Tart cherries
  • Vegetable juices
  • Pomegranate
  • Fresh wild caught cold cater fish (Salmon)
  • Tomatoes
  • Fresh berries

4. A Hot Shower

Try getting into a hot shower to help relax your back muscles. You may find that doing this often keeps your back from popping by itself. It is safe and actually quite good for your back muscles. You can even try warm baths with a sprinkle of Epsom salt or essential bath oils to help you relax more.

5. Medical Treatments

If home treatments do not work and the problem continues, you may need to see your doctor. There are medical treatments that can help:

  • Prescription anti-inflammatories
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Steroid shots
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery (If there is a major back condition)

Can You Crack Your Own Back?

You can crack your back but it's not advisable. 

When you crack your back, what you are doing is moving the vertebrae apart and allowing the gasses to escape which causes a "pop." Doing this yourself once in a while may not hurt anything, but cracking your back too often may cause problems.

When you continue to stretch the bones in your back apart you can cause them to lose their stability. The joints in your back were not meant to have constant stretching and they can get loose over time. You can actually cause a back injury when cracking your own back.

For a back to be cracked properly, it needs to be done by someone who knows how to do it the right way. If you crack your back yourself, you may miss important key bones along the way and crack the bones opposite the one giving you trouble. Doing this leads to instability of the back and you will either move too much or too little and cause more of an issue. This can result in issues like:

  • Chronic back pain
  • Sciatic nerve pain

If you are thinking to yourself, “why does my back crack so much” and want to have someone crack it for you to help relieve pressure - use caution. Sometimes people don't know their own strength and can cause injury to your back.

In addition, cracking your back yourself may cause a cycle that continues. You crack your back and feel temporary relief, then your muscles tighten up even tighter. Then you crack your back again to relieve the tightness and the cycle just keeps going.

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