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.

Lower Back Pain When Walking

So you have woken up with back pain and you have probably also searched online to see what the best solution is for it. Some of the advice may have recommended for you to be active and keep moving. Following this if you have gone for a walk you quickly realise that your back pain is still there or even getting worse.

So what should you do? Do you keep walking and have the mindset of “no pain no gain”? Or do you take rest to stop the pain getting further worse?

There are a number of things that can cause low back pain. Until you find the source of the problem it’s difficult to provide specific advice for your current symptoms.

However in most cases if your pain is being aggravated, even by advice you have read from seemingly reputable sources online (or anywhere else) you must stop that activity. That pain is your body’s way of telling you that this is a crisis situation and that it must be addressed and resolved properly.

You must avoid anything that is aggravating your lower back pain, even if it is walking or moving. So get into a position that makes the lower back pain more comfortable. This allows the body to start healing those tissues, rather than further injuring and aggravating that problem.

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 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.

Stand Corrected

Yep that’s right… today I’m going to tell you how to stand because you’ve probably been doing it wrong all your life.

The number of people I have seen over the years that I have helped to correct their standing posture is phenomenal.

I need to add some value here for our community.

The problem is most people when standing have their feet parallel. This creates a vulnerability through the lower back and pelvis area creating increased risk with injury.

  1. Staggered Stance

Put one foot in front of the other, then bring one of them across so that both feet are approximately hip distance apart.

  1. Slightly Bend Your Knees

Avoid locking out your knees so that you have enough flexibility through them, which reduces any impact through the lower back. You almost end up in a very slightly relaxed seated position.

  1. Shift Body Weight

After doing the first two steps, you can now shift your weight from your front to your back leg (and vice versa) spreading the tension in your body.

As children we are told not to fidget. However fidgeting is one of the best things you can do for your health because we need to move. We are not designed to sit still and be quiet, but to move, be active and do things.

By positioning your body this way and shifting your weight it gives parts of your body a bit of a break.


If you work in an environment where you have a counter or a standing desk, this is a great position as you can move, twist and carry out your tasks very comfortably rather than being very rigid and needing to bend forwards, creating more tension through the whole body.

This also works very well when you are commuting on a bus or train (if you get the space). Any sudden jerks in movement by the bus or train get absorbed by your legs and reduce your risk of injuring your back considerably.

It’s worth retraining your body and reminding yourself in this way to be able to carry out all the things you want to achieve.

Back In 5

If you get into trouble and have treatment which feels good, but then don’t look to prevent it from coming back so end up going back to your bad habits, only for the condition to return.

The reason for that is biology, bad habits and common sense.

Once my patients have gone through their main course of care I often advise on how to maintain or further improve their condition beyond just pain relief or avoiding symptoms.


It’s much like when a building is on fire. Putting the fire out is like dealing with the symptoms only. However, to ensure that the fire doesn’t come you need to correct the original problem and check regularly to make sure it doesn’t come back. That’s much like what our body is like.

It’s also going to give you a better chance of correcting a problem before it becomes too big, therefore improving the outcome even more.

There are several studies showing this to be the case with musculoskeletal conditions. Which makes sense. If you stop taking care of your body, get out of good habits of doing certain exercises or movements, having regular checkups to catch conditions and prevent injury then there’s a higher risk of poor health and less than optimal function.

For those that get into these bad habits tend to call us back in around 5 months time as it takes around this much time for them to start noticing a few symptoms creep back into and affect their lifestyle.

Let’s take the example of a professional athlete who is on a maintenance program, but is preparing for an event. I may find by them coming to see me more frequently in the build up to that event to be beneficial and ensure they are at their optimum.

The same applies for those who have hobbies and want to continue to enjoy those hobbies.

I also see a lot of ambitious patients who want career progression or entrepreneurs who need to function at their peak in order to serve the needs of their business. Our body is still the instrument that we require in order to perform those activities. So these examples may require for someone to be sitting in an office for several hours, or sitting twisted in a boardroom meeting. If they are not able to sit in that way their work is likely to be affected and therefore they are not going to be able to get what they need done.

With chiropractic and osteopathy it’s just like when you regularly see your dentist, have your car serviced, get your heating boiler checked annually.

SCIATICA? Then Ask This…

You have probably come across this famous “condition” SCIATICA.

It can be a very debilitating condition.

If you a professional ever diagnoses you with sciatica I would implore to ask them what is the cause.


You see, the definition of sciatica is:

Pain in the distribution of the sciatic nerve

This means that sciatica only tells you where the pain is, not the cause. For me that is not a complete diagnosis as you don’t yet know what the problem is.

Your sciatic nerve is the thickest nerve in your body (it’s as thick as your thumb!). It’s made up of a number of different branches of nerves that originate in your lumbar spine (low back). These converge, just how the exit on a motorway would converge into a spaghetti junction, out of which you have individual peripheral nerves, one of which is the sciatic nerve.

There are other peripheral nerves that also supply the the leg.

Just as you may meet traffic whilst driving, you experience the “pain” of the vehicle in front of you. However, that line of traffic could be due to a number of different reasons, such as roadworks, an accident or dysfunctional traffic lights.


Similarly sciatica can be due to a pinching of the nerve roots from the spine, from tight muscles in the buttock area, a disc bulge, etc… So it’s important to resolve the source of the problem to allow correct nerve flow, rather than making a vague and incomplete diagnosis of sciatica.