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Scared of getting cracked?

24 April, 2020

Scared of getting cracked?

Approximate reading time: 3 minutes

The idea of going to a chiropractor is scary for many. I understand that and I'm a chiropractor! The first time I went to a chiropractor was out of frustration from a lack of progress with other treatments.

How do chiropractic manipulations work?

Spinal manipulations, also called adjustments, are skillful and quick mobilisation of locked up joints.

They are performed by some chiropractors, some osteopaths and some physiotherapists. Chiropractors undergo the most training with a large portion of their five-years university training dedicated to the scientific understanding and practical application of adjustments.

The research is still trying to establish why adjustments can be so effective for many ailments like headaches and back pain.

Some current theories include:

  • Decreasing pain signals
  • Altering the brain control of the body
  • Quickly relaxing tight & shorten muscles
  • Activating joint receptors (mechanoreceptors)
  • Releasing endorphins
  • Breaking up adhesions around the joints
  • Releasing trapped joint capsules

Adjustments: a traditional form of healthcare

Spinal adjustments have been used throughout history.

The first records of spinal manipulation are cave drawings from 17 500 BC. These out-date many traditional therapies such as Chinese medicine (2 500 years old) and Indian Ayurvedic medicine (3 000 years old).

Ancient Egyptian, Chinese, Greek, Balianese and Hawaiian texts all make mentions of spinal adjustments. The “father of modern medicine”, Hippocrates also writes about spinal adjustments.

During the Renaissance period, “bone setters” and military surgeons used manipulations to correct spinal curves. In the late 19th century, Osteopathy, Chiropractic and Physiotherapy were formally established.

Over time, our understanding of the body and adjustments has grown. Now many Chiropractors and other manual practitioners complement their treatments with massage, rehabilitation exercises and advanced therapeutics such as laser or electrical stimulation.

So is a manipulation scary or painful?

No - it's the easy answer as a chiropractor. However, the first time we experience anything, it can be scary. The unknown is a scary thing. I understand that.

First your chiropractor will assess if manual adjustments are appropriate for you. They aren’t for everyone. We have many treatment options, manual adjustments is just one example.

Your chiropractor will explain what they are going to do - what you may feel or hear. It is then up to you whether you wish to have a manual adjustment or an alternate treatment, like gentle stretches or cranial therapy. Yep - it’s always your choice.

When you know what to expect, you can feel comfortable. It is not scary after all! Adjustments are not painful but just like after a massage or returning to the gym after a long time, you may pull up a little tender. If this occurs, it generally passes in 24 - 48 hours.

What is the pop sound?

The pop is gas being released for the joint stretching. My childish joke is that it is a joint farting.

It sounds and feels the same as cracking your knuckles. Some love it, some hate it. This is why manual adjustments are not our only treatment option.

The clicky thing - a gentle release of locked up joints

Are there non-cracking techniques?

Of course! We offer a range of low force techniques

  • The Activator (the “clicky thing” as many patients refer to it as)
  • Pelvic blocks
  • Drop piece (the loud tables)
  • Cranial therapy
  • Gentle mobilisations

These are also the techniques used for children

Whether it's a manual “crack” or a gentle wiggle of the joint, our chiropractic treatments offer a holistic approach to pain and postural relief. Each treatment includes massage & stretches, rehab exercises and sometimes taping, laser therapy, electrical stimulation, brain-based therapy or balance retraining.

Appointments available in Moonee Ponds or online.

Similar articles you'll enjoy:

  • Author Unknown (2019). Ayurvedic Medicine: In Depth. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Accessed via
  • Author Unknown (2013). Traditional Chinese Medicine: What You Need To Know. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Accessed via
  • Harrison L (2015). Spinal Manipulation for Back and Neck Pain: Does It Work Medscape. Feb 15 2017. Accessed via
  • Liebenson C (2019). Rehabilitation of the Spine: A Patient-Centered Approach. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 29 Oct 2019.
  • Randoll C, Gagnon-Normandin V, Tessier J, Bois S, Rustamov N, O'Shaughnessy J, Descarreaux M & Piché M (2017). The Mechanism of Back Pain Relief by Spinal Manipulation Relies on Decreased Temporal Summation of Pain. Neuroscience. 2017 May 4. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2017.03.006
  • Pettman E (2007). A History of Manipulative Therapy. J Man Manip Ther. 2007; 15(3): 165–174. Doi: 10.1179/106698107790819873