Do Chiropractors “Crack or Crunch” bones???

Do Chiropractors “Crack or Crunch” bones???

This is a very common question and misconception about the care I provide as a Chiropractor. In short, NO, we do not crack or crunch bones! Let me explain further…


It helps to understand what my aim is as a Chiropractor. I focus on the spine and nervous system, and how they are functioning together. You see, the nervous system works like telephone wires. It’s the way the brain communicates to the body, and the body communicates to the brain. The spine, protects the nervous system, and also allows functional movement of your body. Due to various types of stressors in our life, such as physical, chemical, nutritional and emotional, the spine can move out of correct alignment and become stuck in this position. When this happens, muscular tension, joint inflammation, stiffness and irritation occur, particularly to the nerves.


Therefore, my aim is to find these areas of dysfunction in the spine, and correct them. This is called a Chiropractic adjustment. This is the skill of using a specific force in a precise direction, applied to a joint that is not functioning correctly. This adds motion to the joint, helping the joints to gradually regain more normal motion and function. The purpose of this safe and natural procedure is to permit improved spinal function, improved nervous system function, and improved health.


There are various ways in which I can do this:


1.  Manual Adjustment – this is when I use my hands to adjust the spine. This is gentle and specific on the joint that requires correction. You may hear an audible “popping” sound with this type of adjustment.


So, what is that noise?

Your spinal joints contain fluid known as synovial fluid. Commonly within any fluid, air bubbles exist. When your spine is adjusted, there is a change in pressure within the fluid in the joint with the quick movement, releasing gas – similar to when you open a can of soft drink – the change in pressure in the can, releases gas and makes a noise! This release of gas is what creates the audible “pop”. If there is no “popping” sound, it does not mean the adjustment was not successful, it simply means that there was no sound from the escaping gas. That sound is not your spine “cracking” or “popping” like most people think. That sound is created by gas (in this case, nitrogen) rushing in to fill the partial vacuum created when the joints are slightly separated.


2.  Activator treatment – this tool is very gentle and can be used on babies, through to the elderly. It is Chiropractic instrument that gives a very gentle thrust into the joint to help restore correct movement. The children I see in clinic often describe it as tickling sensation. This tool is a great alternative to manual adjustments. Even though it is gentle, it is very effective.


There is a significant body of evidence surrounding the efficacy of Chiropractic care1. Over the last 25 years, at least five formal government studies from around the world have found spinal adjustment therapy to be safe, effective and cost-effective2. There are, however, more recent studies that provide a more careful and complete consideration of the safety of neck adjustment. According to these studies, the risk of stroke is actually quite small. Research recently published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reports the risk at one in 5,000,000 patient treatments3.


Rest assured, when you come to see me, I take a thorough history as well as conduct orthopedic and neurological tests to determine the safety of your treatment. My priority is to make you feel comfortable with your adjustments, and I will tailor my treatment style towards your needs. I always encourage questions, so should you require further information, please get in touch.



  1. February 15, 2001, the Canadian Chiropractic Association website:
  2. Health Quality Council of Alberta. Satisfaction with Health Care Services: A Survey of Albertans. 2006. Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) Program of Care for Acute Lower Back Injuries: One-Year Evaluation Report. 2004. Chiropractic in the United States: Training, Practice and Research, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. AHCPR Research Report, 1997. Manga P, Angus D, Papadopoulus C, Swan W. The Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness of Chiropractic Management of Low- Back Pain. Ottawa: Kenilworth Publishing, 1993. Commission on Alternative Medicine. Legitimization for Vissa Kiropraktorer. South Africa,1987. Thompson CJ. Medicare Benefits Review Committee. Australia: Commonwealth Government Printer, 1986. Hasselberg PD. Chiropractic in New Zealand, Report of the Commission of Inquiry. Wellington: Government Printer, 1979 (see
  3. Haldeman S, Carey P, Townsend P, Papadopoulos C. Arterial dissections following cervical manipulation: the chiropractic experience. Canadian Medical Association Journal 2001; 165(7): 905-906.


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