Does your back crack when you roll over in bed? Do you stretch to the side and hear a chorus of cracks and pops up and down your spine? Have you ever wondered why that is? So have doctors. There is not a singular consensus on one cause for a back crack. There are a few possibilities for why your back cracks so much. Most of them aren’t cause for concern. 

The Most Common Explanation For Back Cracks

Back cracking is usually a normal body function. Your back cracks when gas bubbles form and pop between your facet joints.

Let’s back up for a second and look at the anatomy of your back. The spine has vertebrae, and facet joints connect to these vertebrae. And each facet joint is surrounded by a joint capsule, filled with synovial fluid. This fluid is necessary because it lubricates the facet joint, and keeps them moving. As you go about your day, the air pressure in the joints change. And this causes bubbles to form inside the synovial fluid. Eventually, those bubbles pop. When that happens, it makes a cracking (or popping) sound. Your joints are meant to move. The forming and collapsing of these bubbles are a normal part of the process, and doctors don’t believe it causes harm to the joints. 

Additional Reasons For Back Cracks

While the above is a common explanation for the sound, there are more causes for back popping. Such as:

  • Deteriorated cartilage can cause bones to rub loudly together. Cartilage is a protective structure that keeps your bones from touching. When that breaks down, your bones can rub together at the joint. And this creates a cracking or grinding noise. However, if these noises commonly occur at the same joint, then deteriorated cartilage is a likely cause. 
  • The snapping of ligament or tendon around your bones can cause a cracking sound. When your muscles are tight, this can make ligaments or tendons rub against your bones, cartilage, or another ligament or tendon. If you stretch your muscles more frequently, you can cut down how often this happens. However, these aren’t the only reasons for back popping. A wide variety of things can cause noise. In fact, sometimes doctors can’t find the source of the pop.

When You Might Have A Problem

Your back popping may be a problem if it hurts or there is swelling. If you have back pain, you should contact your doctor. When speaking to your doctor, be sure to talk to them about how often your back cracks. If it’s frequent, it may indicate a few things, including a damaged ligament or cartilage, a broken down synovial capsule, or osteoarthritis. You should also talk to your doctor if the sounds are consistent whenever you move the joint, as there could be several problems specific to the joint. And if the cracking occurred after an injury, there may be joint problems. These problems could be due to changes inside the structure, like a fracture

If you have experienced a recent trauma, make sure to mention that to your doctor. Your physician is like a detective. Their job is to track down these clues and figure out an accurate diagnosis for your back pain. Getting a diagnosis from your doctor is the first step to finding treatment and pain relief.

If you continue to hear a cracking or its accompanied by pain, call us at 888-409-8006.