What Causes The Popping Sound At The Chiropractor?

So you’ve probably seen my videos where I am adjusting my patients and you may wonder “what is actually making that pop sound?”

I’m not actually caring about the sound effects. That’s the least of my worries. It really comes down to the cause. What I’m actually doing is more movement, therefore allowing the body to function normally again, at its optimum, rather than being stuck, and over working in certain areas more than others.

So I’ll be really looking for those joints that are not functioning optimally, that have a bit more stiffness in them or a reduction in range of movement.

When I find those joints, by putting a specific movement through there, it may create a little popping sound often. The reason is because in those joints, if they haven’t been moving for a while, some gas builds up in the joints. Those tissues are still alive so they release gases in the body anyway. So when I put that movement through the joint, some of the gas can get released and it makes a popping sound.

Often that popping sound has been misunderstood, and instead described as a cracking. I get asked “Can you crack my bones?”

Hopefully not! Because if I do crack your bones, that’s technically a fracture.

So by moving those bones we are adjusting the joint thereby improving its range of movement and achieving optimal function.

Now you may often hear some different pops when you’re moving around some cracks and clicks. In those cases it may be due to some tight tendons flicking over a bone. That’s not quite the same as what we often create in our patients. The noise that you hear is often that the popping sound is created from the joints moving, and the gas releasing from between the joints.

But then also when I put a movement through a joint and I don’t hear a pop it doesn’t mean it didn’t work.

The sound is not the important part. What is important is the movement that we have now achieved in that joint, i.e. the function.

 I also have some people tell me that tell me they crack their joints themselves.

But you to avoid doing that yourself, because even for me, I can’t, and it’s impossible for me to align or adjust my own joints that need them the most.

It’s impossible for me to actually generate the force required on those stiff joints that needs that movement.

Instead I will often go to see my own colleagues to get adjusted, rather than attempt it myself.

I would encourage you to do the same. If you are trying to adjust yourself, it is not really an adjustment. That movement is likely to go through space or a joint has already got too much movement anyway. So all you are doing in the long term is exacerbating the problem.

Can a Chiropractor Fix a Misaligned Jaw?

Well it all depends on what the cause of the misalignment is. However in most cases probably – yes!

Most people don’t even know that they may have a misaligned jaw. In fact a partner or loved one may hear you grind your teeth at night, whilst you are fast asleep. A common reason for grinding teeth is holding stress in your subconscious.

Chewing is often done one sided, i.e. we prefer chewing in one direction more than the other. However just like you wouldn’t carry a bag on just one shoulder, the same is true with our jaw joints. We want to ensure we get equal movement through both sides.

We have two temporomandibular joints (TMJ) in front of each ear. That’s where you can often feel some ache or pain from teeth grinding or too much clenching of the TMJ. One of the main muscles that creates movement of the TMJ is the temporalis muscle which spans over the side of the head, commonly causes headaches in this area.

As chiropractors and osteopaths we are trained to know about the deeper connection between the muscles round the back of the neck and the jaw area. So a misuse of the TMJ can have a profound knock on effect to the rest of the spine.

One way of treating the TMJ is via the spinal joints and nerves. Another is by holding onto the jaw joint itself and performing a direct manipulation. Remember that although this can help, we must still consider the overall lifestyle that may be the root cause of the problem.

Health Benefits Of Hugging

Today is National Hug Day.

There are so many benefits to our health, lifestyles and well-being.

Of course make sure you get permission from those who want to give a hug.

Hugging reduces cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone, and if found in large quantities for long periods of time in the body, can be quite destructive.

Most people tend to be living stressful lives, so have high amounts of cortisol in their body. A hug from a loved one for a few minutes can help balance the cortisol to normal levels.

Linked to that, studies have found hugging can reduce high blood pressure.

Another benefit is reducing anxiety. I have seen a trend in members of our local community with ever increasing levels of anxiety. A hypothesis for one of the causes is that nowadays there is more of a taboo with physical touch, and we are losing our sense of touch with one another.

See who you can go and give a loving warm hug too, and let me know in the comments.

How To Help Lower Back Pain

If you are unfortunate enough to be suffering with some sort of lower back pain and it just so happens to be at a time with it’s rather difficult to get hold of a health professional, such as on the weekend, during a national holiday, or when abroad in a remote area.

There are a few things you can do in the interim until you are able to get to a health professional. Remember this is not a fix, but just a simple way to potentially help you through the uncomfortable period.

Even if it starts to feel better it’s still worth taking the time to seek professional advice to be fully sure.

  1. Avoid Aggravation

The first thing you must do is avoid anything that aggravates the pain. Although some general advice says to keep active, if that particular activity is aggravating your symptoms then stop – this is NOT a no pain, no gain scenario (quite the opposite)

  1. Calm The Fire

Most of the time a lot of pain is due to inflammation. That means it’s hot and red, so we need to cool it with ice. Of course make sure you wrap the ice in a thin towel otherwise you may end up with frost bite on top of all the other problems you already have going on.

WIth an area that is inflamed, it’s “flame-atory” meaning it’s hot, so applying heat can potentially add more fuel to the fire.

If it was just muscle tightness then it may be suitable to apply heat – however the real question then becomes “Why is that muscle tight?”

So if you’re unsure go for the ice. The other advantage is your nerves don’t work very well at low temperatures anyway, so this can help give some comfort and relief by dulling the pain.

Lower Back Pain When Bending

If you are suffering with lower back pain when bending there are a number of different structures that we need to be looking at, addressing and potentially be concerned about too.

When we look at a typical spine, it is made up of bones called vertebrae. In the lower back (lumbar spine) there are a total of 5 vertebrae.

The bumps on the back are called spinous processes. These are what you can see or feel when you run you hand down the back. Near these spinous processes are the joints which allow the vertebrae to articulate with each other. These joints are called facets.

In between the vertebrae are the spinal discs. We want these to be nice and spongy to allow for efficient shock absorption from any movements of activity.

When bending the lower back, these discs can get more compressed, which can cause them to bulge if there is already a problem there. This bulge can potentially pinch the nerves as they are exiting the spine.

Pain can also be caused by the stretching of the capsule around the facets if bending forwards. These facet joints can get inflamed, and if they get inflamed to the point where they start pinching on nerves they can also add to pain.

Softer structures in the area such as ligaments and muscles can get stretched when bending. If they are tight due to an injury or poor posture the pain may be an indication of requiring some guided lifestyle changes.

So as you can see there is not an easy fix such as performing a stretch or sitting a certain way to “cure back pain”. As I always say, pain is a symptom indicating that there is a problem. It’s the cause that needs to be addressed to remove it.

Poop Better 💩

If you have ever suffered from constipation you will know how uncomfortable it can be. Especially if it has been there for a long time, it can be very horrible and potentially dangerous for your health too.

Things that can help are to have a high fibre diet or staying hydrated to help move the contents of your bowels more efficiently.

However we have to also consider mechanical challenges too.

Should You Be Worried About Clicking In Your Body?

Have you noticed that your body might click if you move a certain way, ankles might click, or the wrists might click.

See the body does click in different ways for different reasons. The most common reason for clicking if it’s been from your movement is a tendon flicking over a bone. A tendon is a piece of connective tissue that connects a muscle belly to a bone so that it can control movement of the joint.


If the muscle fibres are tight due to poor posture, poor stretching habits or lifestyle choices, the tendons become more taut. This can lead the the tendon flicks over a bit of bone, creating that clicking sensation.


The most common area I have found this to be, is in the shoulder area. There are a lot of muscles around the shoulder girdle which are prone to become tight and causing such tendons to click or flick.

If it happens for a short while, it is not a problem. However if it continues to happen for a few days, weeks, months or even years doing movements where you keep getting this type of clicks can put increased risk of inflammation of the tendon – tendonitis. This can be quite painful, you may need to stop some of the activities that are aggravating that for some time until it has recovered.

It’s often a relatively easy fix, by reducing the tightness in the muscle. Chiropractors and Osteopaths also check the underlying reason for why that muscle is tightening up in the first place. Without doing that, the muscle is likely to keep tightening.  

Another reason for your joints to click is if some joints are stiff, other joints may have to overcompensate by moving more than normal. This may lead to some gas in that joint releasing, creating a popping sound.

This is similar to the sound you hear when having a chiropractic or osteopathic adjustment. The difference however is that when your body does it on its own, it’s more likely the joints that are already working too hard are moving. When a chiropractor or osteopath performs this technique, it is specific to the joints that are stiff and so they require the additional movement to restore balanced functional movement back into the body.

How To Lift Weights Correctly

So you have decided that you want to get more fit, more healthy, and get more movement in your body, then you may have considered joining a gym or actually working out at home.

I want to share with you some personal tips that I have used, as I was a gym novice at one point (everyone starts as a beginner, right?)

When I was a teenager, I decided that I needed to make a change, create more movement. Especially coming from an Indian culture where someone who is overweight is described as being “healthy”, I was often described as being “very healthy”.

Initially I was quite scared of going to a gym. Not only because it was very expensive for me at the time, or whether I would even use it enough, but I felt unsure and intimidated by my own limiting beliefs about knowing what to do and where to go.

I was very lucky, at the time I was living with my parents who had bought a treadmill for the family to use, so I had access to that, but I would also go outside for a run, or even a bike ride.

When it came to lifting weights, I was not sure where to start. So I bought a cheap set of weights and start using at home, just on the bedroom floor, every single day. Eventually as my confidence grew, and the weights got heavier, to the point where it was becoming dangerous, I started to consider using a gym so that I could prevent any potential injuries, and take my health and fitness to another level.

I was first worried that I would not fit in in a gym. The image I had in my mind was there would be all these big strong guys in there, and kept on drawing these false comparisons. Actually what I was pleasantly surprised by is no one in the gym cared, it was not like that at all, everyone is actually like you, and they are all too busy focussed on their own workout.

Make sure you choose a gym that you really like. I looked around at a lot of the gyms in my area before deciding on the one I joined. Take advantage of the induction by the gym staff. Ask as many questions as you can, especially about any of the machines that you are not sure of. Even today, if there’s a new piece of equipment in the gym that I am not sure about, I will ask one of the staff who are only too happy to show me how it works. This enables me to make sure I get the best use out of it, and also prevent any injury from incorrect use.

Other members of the gym may be meaning well by offering advice. However in my experience most people have fallen into so many bad habits, it’s best to always seek professional advice from the gym staff.

For whatever reason, there is a stigma regarding women generally avoiding the weights section of the gym (although I am happy to see this is starting to shift in recent years). See combining weightlifting with cardiovascular exercise is important for general wellbeing and health.

As a functional chiropractor and osteopath, I think about the body moving in a realistic way. I believe any workout should be a rehearsal to practice movements that we would do in the real world. With weightlifting that means using free weights rather than machines. I am a very big fan of dumbbells as they allow natural movement patterns.

Once you get used to some basic exercises, start considering using different weights in each hand. See when you are picking up bags, they are never the same weight in both arms. By mimicking that movements in the gym will allow your body to get used to it, so not only will you be more efficient at moving that way, it will also considerably reduce your risk of any injury.

Another great tip is to create balance in your body using weights. When performing a pushing movement, also make sure you perform an equal and opposite pull movement.

A common mistake with weightlifters in the gym is they are performing the movements far too fast. This can increase the friction on the tendons, making it more prone to tendonitis or injury.

Our muscles have two types of fibres – fast twitch and slow twitch. It is important to strengthen both.

When contracting and lifting a weight, aim to perform that in 2 seconds or less.

Hold the weight at maximum contraction for 2 seconds.

Then lower the weight for 4 seconds.

This is the safest and most efficient method I have found to help grow stronger and healthier in the muscular system. It also reduces a stress response in your body, so you have less cortisol hormone produced, which in large amounts can be damaging.

How To Fix A Trapped Nerve

I often get asked if I can help someone suffering with a trapped nerve.

In short – YES!

However, how do we know exactly what the “trapped nerve” is?

A lot of people may experience pain, numbness, tingling, pins and needles, loss of power – all these types of symptoms if it is a trapped nerve.

But the real question is where is it being trapped?

Until you find the exact point where the nerve is being trapped, there is no proper way of resolving it. These types of conditions are biomechanical meaning it’s a physical problem, so no tablet, no cream, no drug is going to change the biomechanical challenge of pinch.

To resolve it, there needs to be a physical movement to that area to untrap or unpinch the affected nerve.

I prefer calling it pinched rather than trapped.

It’s very much like when you have lights in a building, to turn a light on that’s in the ceiling, you need to go to a switch on the wall. The reason that works is because we all know there is a wire that goes from the switch to the light communicating what to do. If that wire was pinched somewhere when you go to turn the light on by pressing the switch on the wall, it won’t turn on.

Other causes could be the light bulb itself may need replacing, or the fuse in the fusebox may have been tripped, or there may be a power outage at the mains for the whole street.

That’s just like what happens with our body.

When you look at the spine, the nervous system that is housed inside, and those nerves that exit the spine supply everything in the body.

The nerves in the lower back (lumbar spine) supply the legs

Those nerves in the mid back (thoracic spine) supply most of your organs.

And the nerves in the neck (cervical spine) supply the head and arms.

If you experience any pain, numbness, tingling, loss of power, pins and needles, it may not be a local problem, i.e. where you are experiencing those symptoms. There may be a link back to somewhere else in the spine where the nerves are coming from. Or it may be higher up in the central nervous system.

So until you find that mechanical challenge your body is experiencing on those nerves, no drugs, no tablets, no cream is going to relieve that pressure. Not even some exercises, because they may aggravate the issue if you haven’t dealt with the root cause.

Although there isn’t an exercise that I can give you to relieve a trapped nerve, what I can say with confidence is that it well worth visiting a local professional who specialises, like a chiropractor or an osteopath, in finding the source of your problem.

It’s really important to find the source of the trapped nerve, because only then can you release the pinching of the nerve, allowing the nerve flow to correctly supply the body again.

We have to also consider how long you have had the pinched nerve. Because the longer the nerve has been pinched, the more potential weakness you can get, with regards to the signals into those areas.

Before I treat any patient, or even examine them, we go through a full case history. This helps me find out more information about their symptoms, their health history, their lifestyle goals.

I then will also carefully examine the patient. You can often see in my videos where I treat my patients, that I check which specific level in the spine needs the adjustment, which releases the tension in the joints, the pressure on the nerves, restoring normal nerve function back in the body.

Research has also found that by adjusting a level in the spine that is affecting a nerve supplying a part of the body, that the body then sends messages back to the nervous system, further strengthening the connections – it’s like a complete electrical circuit.

Very similar to your broadband. Although your internet service provider sends the bulk of the data to your building, your modem will fire back little messages letting the ISP know it’s there. So our body is like the building, and the ISP is our nervous system, which are sending messages back and forth to each other.

Like most things, once things are working well, there is always a risk that the pinching may return, or a new injury may occur. Regular check ups reduce the risk of recurrence.

For longer term relief we need to also consider lifestyle choices along side regular maintenance where appropriate.