Neck cracking is a typical clicking or crackling sound experienced by a person when twisting or rotating the head. It has a similarity with the sound produced when twisting the knuckles. Some people twist their neck to lessen the tension of the muscle in the neck after getting up in bed or sitting for long period of time.
Some people feel relaxed with the sound of a pop after twisting their neck, but constantly cracking the neck can be dangerous to the health of a person. It can result to pain in the neck and development of osteoarthritis of the neck. Sometimes, it can happen to other people while bending or twisting the neck.
Causes of neck cracking
- Neck cracking can be caused by cervical osteoarthritis which is a degenerative condition of the cervical bones due to aging and regular wearing and tearing of the bones.
- The neck vertebra is lubricated by synovial fluid which is a thick fluid that surrounds the neck bones. The fluid is composed of gases, carbon dioxide and nitrogen which form bubbles in the fluid. During movement of the neck, the bubbles can burst and result to the cracking sound in the neck.
- Ligaments supporting the neck bones can slip from its surface when moving the neck and result to a popping sound.
- Repeated cracking sound in the neck affects movement of the neck and pain can be felt in the affected area.
- Headaches and pain that radiates up to the shoulder.
- The muscle of neck is sore and tender when touched.
- Tingling and numbness sensation can be felt in the arms and fingers.
- Perform some exercises that can relieve the neck cracking sensation. Bend the head forward until the chin touches the chest. This stretches the muscle at the back of the neck and strengthens the muscles of the neck. Bend the neck sideways to lessen the strain on the muscles. Perform this exercise 2-3 times every day.
- Stretch the muscles of the neck under a warm shower to make it pliable. Another way is applying moist heat on the affected area.
- Massage regularly the neck muscles to increase the circulation of blood in the area and minimize the spasm of the neck muscles. When spasms of the neck muscle have healed, there is improvement in cracking of the neck.
- Drink water immediately after a massage to flush out the inflammatory by-products, toxins and lactic acid from the body. It also prevents headaches or mild nausea.
- Apply a warm moist compress with a heated bag or a hot water bottle to lessen the stiffness and pain caused by a neck muscle spasm. It also relieves the cracking sound in the neck.
- Avoid carrying bags that distribute an uneven weight across the shoulder and cause straining the neck such as single-strap messenger bags or purses.
- Avoid reading in bed or gritting the teeth to prevent straining the neck muscles.