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Neck self-adjustment: Is it okay to do it?

Updated: Oct 9

Written by: Julia Noh

These days, many people experience neck stiffness or a sensation of heaviness in their shoulders, which they try to release in various ways. People try to stretch their neck, self-adjust it, or move around to relieve the stiffness. Today, let’s talk about neck self-adjustment.


What is a neck self-adjustment and why do it?

Neck self-adjustment is when people try to relieve the stiffness of the neck or shoulder area by moving their neck around into a certain position until it makes a ‘cracking’ or ‘popping’ sound .

It feels like the stiffness is relieved by the ‘popping’ sound of the adjustment. According to research, people tend to think that the ‘popping’ sound guarantees a successful adjustment, so they keep adjusting until they hear the sound.


What causes the ‘popping’ sound?

The ‘popping’ sound comes from the joint. The neck has a pair of joints on each side, called the facet joints. Each facet joint is filled with fluid and surrounded by a capsule. When the joints are adjusted, the joint stretches out, which decreases the pressure in the joint. This will turn the liquid in the joint into a gas. The ‘popping’ is the sound of this gas being released.


Why is it disadvantageous?

Neck self-adjustment can be harmful. When done aggressively, the nerves or blood vessels running through the neck spine can be pinched. This will lead to extreme neck and shoulder pain, weakness or numbness down the arm and difficulty moving the neck. A pinched blood vessel can also be very dangerous as it can block the blood flow to brain.

Also, the joint can get hypermobile when adjustment is attempted too frequently. When the joint gets hypermobile, the range of motion is larger than normal. This will increase the risk of injury, and cause neck pain or stiffness and joint pain. Prolonged joint pain can lead to osteoarthritis.


How can we help?

At Osmosis Chiro, we can relieve muscle and joint restriction, and stiffness. We take a complete history and perform a thorough examination to find the specific area that is causing the pain, and we offer treatment via soft tissue work, joint mobilisation and adjustment. We also plan a rehabilitation programme to prevent reoccurrence and promote healthier well-being and an active lifestyle.



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Tel: (02) 9264 7079