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 this. Although, 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 Why Your Back Cracks
Usually, back cracking is 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. Your spine has vertebrae. Connecting your vertebrae are facet joints. Each facet joint is surrounded by a joint capsule. The joint capsule is filled with synovial fluid. This is important because the fluid lubricates the facet joints. That lubrication keeps your joints moving smoothly.
As you go about your day, moving this way and that, the air pressure in the joints changes. 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 is a normal part of the process and doctors don’t believe it causes harm to the joints.
Additional Reasons For Back Cracking
While the above is a very 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. This creates a cracking or grinding noise. If the same noises happen repeatedly 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.
These aren’t the only reasons for back popping. It’s possible a variety of things can cause noise. In fact, sometimes doctors can’t find the source of the noise.
When You Might Have A Back Popping Problem
Your back popping may be a problem if it hurts or there is swelling. If you are in pain, you should contact your doctor.
When you talk to your doctor, be sure to talk to them about how often your back cracks. If it’s very frequent, this may indicate a number of 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 this could be caused by a number of problems specific to the joint.
If the cracking started after an injury, there may be joint problems because of changes inside the structure, like a fracture. If you have experienced a recent trauma make sure to mention that to your doctor.
Your doctor 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 a treatment and hopefully pain relief.