Guest Post by Dennis Hamming With the Central Texas Spine Institute
Our neck is one of the most important parts of our body. It supports our head and is where the main arteries that provide blood to the brain reside. Without this vital connection between the heart and the brain, we would be dead, so to say that our neck is vital for good health is pretty much an understatement.
Our neck muscles are worked constantly throughout the day, and depending on the type of work or activities that we do each day, can tire easily. This is why we should try and get a good relaxing night’s sleep, where we give the muscles some time to rest and recover.
Why do we crack our necks?
Lots of people crack their joints due to habit. Some people enjoy cracking their knuckles, others their toes or even backs. Some people also like to crack their necks. The reasons why we do this is sometimes a reaction to a stressful situation. Other times, it’s to help relieve pressure that we may be feeling in our neck or shoulders.
If you’ve cracked your neck in the past, you may have experienced a brief period of euphoria. This is because cracking your neck actually releases endorphins into your body joints. This sensation can provide a brief release to pain that you might be feeling.
For example, if you find that your work has you sitting in front of a computer screen for several hours a day, you might feel the urge to stretch and crack your neck to let off a little of the built up pressure.
5 reasons you should NOT crack your neck
Though it can be somewhat pleasant, there are actually a number of reasons why a person should NOT crack his/her neck. Cracking one’s neck over a long period of time can lead to a loss of motion in the neck, or even the development of long-term pain. University and medical studies, such as one with the Central Texas Spine Institute on neck joint cracking called Is Cracking Your Neck and Other Joints Actually Bad For You? have proven that there can be some serious health risks with cracking your neck.
You can damage the nerves in your neck
If you crack your neck with a lot of pressure, it can actually pinch a nerve in your neck. For those who have experienced any kind of nerve pain in the past, you will know that it can be extremely crippling. Nerve pain in the neck can potentially cause a people to have difficulty moving their necks, or simply turning their heads even slightly.
You may experience tightness
Constant cracking of joints such as your neck could lead to gradual tightness of the muscles around the bones. Though it won’t be to the extent of developing something such as arthritis, it will certainly be enough that you will experience a noticeable difference with how your neck muscles feel, as well as a degree of restrictiveness in the movements of your neck.
You can puncture the blood vessels
As mentioned earlier, the neck is a very important part of the body in that it helps deliver blood to the brain. If you crack your neck with too much pressure, there is the potential that you might puncture a blood vessel. If this happens, it can lead to a blood clot forming, which in turn can block the flow of blood to the brain. Though the possibility of causing a stroke is minimal, it is still possible and something to be aware of.
You could pull a muscle
It’s very easy to accidentally pull or overstretch a muscle when cracking your neck. Over stretched ligaments can cause a lot of pain, and can certainly restrict your mobility. This condition is known as ligament laxity, and over time, when your joints have become loose, your muscles will overwork through contraction to help stabilize the joints.
You may develop perpetual instability
If we overstretch our ligaments, which is what naturally occurs when we crack our joints, then there is a risk of developing osteoarthritis, which is caused by your ligaments being constantly stretched and being damaged over time. This can lead to a lack of mobility in the neck and simple motions such as nodding can become very painful and difficult.
Some final thoughts
If you do enjoy the sensation of cracking your joints, then it might be worth considering paying a visit to your local chiropractor. They will be able to offer professional advice and help, and can manipulate your joints in your neck or back to make sure that everything is aligned properly.
If they are able to achieve this, it will often lead to a reduction in the desire for you to crack your own neck or joints. They can also offer practical advice about ways in which you can reduce the pressure on your neck, and how best to help it rest after a hard day’s work.