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What Is The Popping Noise You Hear With Adjustments?


One of the main things associated with chiropractic is the popping noise sometimes heard when an adjustment is delivered. The proper name for the noise is called a cavitation (1).

Here is an excellent video on the topic: Popping of the Joints Explained (Cavitation).


Do You Always Need a Popping Noise With Adjustments?


A recent systematic review looked to see if the presence or absence of a noise during the adjustment had any effect on a patient’s pain relief (1). This is particularly interesting as there are patients who equate a noise being heard as a sign of a successful adjustment or not. Patients that were included in this study suffered from neck, mid back and low back pain, representing a wide population of the spinal regions. However, this study speaks to the contrary. Audible pops produced during an adjustment are not likely to provide an independent therapeutic effect in their impact of pain outcomes (1). This means that hearing a cavitation during an adjustment does not correlate with receiving a successful adjustment from your chiropractor!


As satisfying or scary as the “pop” can be, it is important to understand the noise is not bones, ligaments, or tendons snapping nor is it the sound of the bone being pushed back into place. As explained in depth in the linked video, the noise is produced by gas within the joint from being expanded. This also relates to patient’s who “self-adjust” and produce a pop on their own. Just because a noise is produced when you forcefully self-adjust on a region of your spine, does not mean an adjustment has been delivered nor, as the study found, should pain relief be expected.


As always, if you have questions feel free to reach out to Dr. Kennedy!


Sources

  1. Moorman, A. C., & Newell, D. (2022). Impact of audible pops associated with spinal manipulation on perceived pain: a systematic review. Chiropractic & manual therapies, 30(1), 42. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12998-022-00454-0


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