Neck Popping and Cracking: Why Is This Harmful?

We often witness one typical mannerism of most people which is neck cracking and popping. Like in action movies, where we commonly see tough men crack their necks and we will eventually hear neck popping sounds as the men keeps on twisting their necks. Although this scene in a movie makes it really alluring, in real life, popping neck can actually bring you harm.

What is Neck Popping?

The skull protects the brain, while the neck protects the spinal cord. There are bones at the front of neck and the cartilage rings that supports trachea and larynx. These bones and muscles are making head movement an easy activity. When there’s repeated rotating movement of the head, or when large muscle that extends down the neck to collar bone is affected, neck popping is felt. 

Cracking and Popping in Neck

“I always experience popping in my neck and constantly hear a loud neck popping sound every time I turn my head. It doesn’t hurt though, but why is that happening?”

Neck popping and grinding happens when there’s changes in the cartilage that lines the facet joints. Typically, when the cartilage becomes soft, it’s also becoming irregular; so when there’s head movement, instead of taking the smooth path, the joints now travel on an irregular path. For this reason, a clear sound whenever the head is turned or tilted (popping noise in neck) can be heard.

It could also be that the muscles in the neck are a little tight. Because tight muscles can cause the vertebrae to rub against each other when there’s certain head and neck movement, neck popping when turning head occurs. And whenever popping in neck happen, gas or fluids within the joints around the neck area are released. It is therefore the instant production of temporary vacuum that are filled with fluid or gas is what causes the popping sound in neck.

There are some people whose neck keeps popping on its own, and/or been hearing loud popping sounds in neck but are not experiencing pain. But even though there’s no pain involved, still, constantly hearing neck popping noise can be disturbing.

“Popping my neck usually gives me relief especially when I’m under a lot of stress. But I guess the question now is: Is popping your neck bad for you even though it doesn’t hurt?”

For most people, neck cracking/popping is merely a habit. The feeling of relief and the sound it makes is just satisfying. But one must realize that this isn’t a good habit; and because it does more harm than good, it should actually be stopped immediately. The following are neck popping/cracking harmful effects:

  • Every popping in the neck puts lots of stress into the joint causing the ligaments around the joints to stretch, thus making it more unstable which can further lead to instability.
  • Regularly popping your neck makes cervical arteries that pass through the back of your neck and head tear, placing you at higher risk of stroke.
  • Every cracking and popping in neck causes the cartilage to wear down in the vertebrae leading to less mobility as time goes by and/or neck arthritis in the future.

Though there are various opinions on the effects of neck cracking, no one really support it all the way – whether healthcare professionals or chiropractors. Because of its serious side effects, it is best to stop cracking neck on your own.

Neck Popping and Pain

Many individuals ask this: can popping your neck hurt you? For some, it’s possible that they don’t feel any neck pain despite popping it regularly. However, that doesn’t mean that you’ll never get hurt. Because constant popping and cracking in neck is usually associated with pain, it becomes a major issue in the long run.

Popping neck with pain could be a sign that there have been misalignments of the vertebral structure, or damage into the joints, ligaments, or cartilage may be present. There could also be other serious conditions involving the spine and the musculoskeletal system which is causing neck pain/popping. For these reasons, immediate medical help is necessary in case sharp neck pain after a loud popping sound happened.

Neck popping and cracking might just only be a vice for some. But for people who are experiencing pain, or for people who are worried with the sounds it make, neck popping and its side effects is serious. So, is popping your neck bad? Yes it is and it’s a habit that should be stopped right away.

Trapped Nerve Neck

Sudden pain in the neck, neck twinge, neck is stuck, radiating pain into the shoulders, wryneck – all of these after you wake up and got out of bed, or probably in the shower. Sounds very familiar, right? These are some of the most common complaints of people who are experiencing neck pain due to a trapped nerve.

Understanding Trapped Nerve in the Neck

There are different causes of pain in the neck – most common would be a trapped nerve in neck and shoulder. Lifting heavy objects, doing repetitive activities, trauma or injury, poor posture, and sleeping in the wrong position are some of the few factors that could cause a trapped neck nerve. Such factors put too much pressure on the nerves, causing it to compress or become trapped, making it unable to efficiently send or receive messages from the brain to the body.

A trapped nerve in neck is usually not painful. A simple pressure only causes numbness but not exactly pain; not unless the tissue around the nerve has become inflamed that it affects the nerve itself, causing nerve inflammation and swelling. So, it’s actually the inflamed tissue that affected the trapped nerve that causes neck pain.

Trapped Nerve Neck Symptoms

Symptoms of a trapped nerve in the neck usually depend on various factors depending on the severeness of compression.  The following are the most common trapped nerve in neck symptoms:

  • Pain in the neck
  • Tingling sensation or numbness in the shoulders and arms
  • Pins and needles pain
  • Sweating
  • Weakness
  • Occasional burning sensation

Trapped Nerve Neck Treatment

Inflammation and pain due to nerve trapped in neck can successfully be managed by various techniques. In most cases, rest and ice is already enough. But there are people who don’t want to take risks and would rather search for treatment for trapped nerve in neck such as the following:

  • Medication – Different anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen or naproxen reduces swelling around the affected nerve, thus reducing the pain.
  • Physical Therapy – Helps in stretching and strengthening muscles in the body to somehow decrease the pressure on the trapped nerve.
  • Surgery – If nothing else works, and additional muscle weakness has been developed, surgery may probably be recommended. This technique removes portions of bone spurs that compress the nerve in the spine.

Chiropractors can also provide an effective trapped nerve in neck treatment. They are trained to relieve pressure from the nerve by manual manipulations of vertebrae to position them back to their proper places.

There are various causes for your neck to incur trapped nerve. So, it’s very important to first identify its cause, treat it, and then find some ways that would reduce your chance of getting trapped nerve again. Physical activity such an exercise can greatly help in strengthening your neck muscle as well as your upper back, thus preventing it from coming back.

Exercise for Trapped Nerve in Neck

We all know how important exercise is for our long-term health. It not just reduces your risk of developing many different diseases, it also improve your immune system to help you fight infections. With regard to neck pain, exercise is considered as another treatment for a trapped nerve in the neck. Because it increases range of motion of joints, and muscular strength, movements will be improved, with less pain and less stiffness.

There are two types of exercises for your neck. One is to strengthen your neck muscles to help make your neck stronger; and the other one is stretching exercises for trapped nerve in neck. In strengthening exercises, neck muscles gains strength and become flexible, making it able to handle pressure in the future, while with stretching exercise, stiffness and pain are reduced, thus relieving pain and achieving other goals such as the following:

  • Increase mobility
  • Improve flexibility
  • Stretch neck muscles
  • Restore or Increase neck range of motion
  • Reduce neck stiffness
  • Reduce pain and inflammation
  • Prevent neck pain

Stretching is an effective trapped nerve in neck exercise. By slowly, carefully, and correctly doing neck stretches up to the point when you can already feel the stretch, movements without feeling any pain or stiffness is possible even without taking pain medications. The following are useful yet easy to do trapped nerve in neck exercises:

Range of Motion Exercise – Lateral flexion

  • Keep your neck, shoulders, and trunk straight while sitting in a chair.
  • Slowly tilt your head to the left shoulder, then to the right, up to the point of pain. (Don’t raise shoulders towards head or rotate head while tilting)
  • Relax and then repeat exercise.

Stretching Exercise – Levator scapulae

  • While sitting in a chair, place hands behind your head, gently move chin to the chest, and then slowly turn towards the right.
  • Hold for ten seconds, and then relax afterwards.
  • Repeat same action for the left side.
  • Relax and then repeat exercise.

Trapezius and Levator Scapulae

  • While lying on your back with knees bent and soles of feet on the ground, put shoulder blades together (neck and muscles at the top of shoulders should be relaxed; but neck should slightly be arched back).
  • Release shoulder blades.
  • Relax and then repeat exercise.

Each of these exercises are done in sets of 10, or based on your ability. However, take extra measure on your first attempt to do the exercises as it can result to more injury. See a chiropractor or a physical therapist to check your neck problem before you do such activities. And remember not to push yourself too much; it’s best to start slow in few sets and repetition and then try to add more when you’re fully able.

Neck exercises are necessary in making your neck muscles stronger. If done regularly, it helps you fight neck pain. However, if pain persists or if in case the pain gets worst, stop the exercise immediately and see a doctor right away.

A Crick in the Neck

“It always ruins my day whenever I have a crick in my neck! That horrible stiffness and sharp pain every time I turn my head is awful!”

You can usually hear this from someone who’s experiencing what we so called a “crick in the neck”. It is when you can hardly move your neck because the muscles hurt – like something’s locking whenever you try to move. Most people describe it as stiff neck, something that’s really annoying, if not painful.

What is Crick in the Neck?

Crick in the neck is a common condition a lot of people have experienced at one point or another. It’s defined as unilateral cervical pain or one sided neck pain causing restricted actions. Actions such as turning your head or bending it to the side of the neck that’s painful, and bending your head back are most commonly restricted as neck crick is characterized by stiffness and a limited movement in the cervical spine.

Crick in Neck Causes

What causes a crick in the neck is somehow disputed. Because it is usually the inflammation that causes the pain, and there’s no inflammation detected with a crick neck, the pain is most likely not due to joint inflammation. It could be neck spasms or could possibly be a problem with a specific neck muscle that usually comes from common patterns of pain apparent to neck strain.

To see what causes crick in neck, try to carefully stretch your neck. If a gentle stretching causes stiff neck but lessens the pain, it’s usually the muscles on your shoulder or upper back are causing the crick. However, if careful stretching causes sharper pain, an overstretched ligament is what most probably causes a crick in your neck.

Although we usually blame neck crick to awkward sleep positioning, there are still other instances that causes it. Everyday activities such as harshly twisting or turning your head during exercise, bending over your desk for hours, and having improper posture also causes crick in neck.

Signs and Symptoms

Pain and difficulty to move your neck especially to one side are what usually crick in neck symptoms. However, when the crick is more serious, you’ll feel that the neck is sore and there’s muscle pain in the same shoulder blade as the neck. And though most neck cricks don’t indicate other medical condition, some people also experience other symptoms such as the following:

  • Pain that goes into shoulder, arm, or hands
  • Weakness in the arm
  • Numbness in the arm
  • Tingling sensation

If any of these other symptoms are present, it would be best to see a doctor as some nerve problems might be involved. There could be a sign of nerve compression in the affected area especially if the pain is radiating into your shoulder and arms.

Crick in Neck Remedies

Hot or cold water or pack set is usually the initial crick in the neck remedies.  Because cold water or ice reduces swelling, thus dulling the pain, and heating pad or hot water relaxes the muscles, forcing it to contract and speed up the healing process, these basic home remedies usually gives best neck crick relief.

Over the counter pain medicines and/or massage especially if the pain doesn’t go away with heat or cold treatment are also some other neck crick remedies. However, OTC drugs are more likely to have side effects, so reading through the label is necessary before taking any of these drugs.

Crick in Neck Treatment

Although simple home remedies can already provide crick in the neck relief, some people feel that those are just not enough. For most people who experience worst pain, seeing a chiropractor would be the best option. Chiropractic therapy can provide an effective crick in the neck treatment by demonstrating neck and spinal manipulation to decrease pain and induce joint movement or increase range of movement. A chiropractor uses pain gels in few sessions of muscle stripping to help soothe the pain and bring crick in neck relief. It usually takes 2 to 3 days to heal or to totally get rid of crick in neck.

Since neck cricks can be nothing more but an annoyance or worst, serious problematic condition, most people are trying to avoid this to re-occur. That’s why it’s advisable to regularly visit your local chiropractor to keep you from singing “Crick in My Neck” by Cowboy Troy anymore.

A crick in the neck is simply your muscles’ reaction when your neck has been wrongly positioned for a long period of time – it’s as simple as that. It is not benign and it usually doesn’t signify a more serious medical condition. However, if the cricks last for more than a week, if it’s getting worse, or if you’re experiencing other symptoms, then it’s about time to see a healthcare professional to properly diagnose and treat your pain.

Understanding Chronic Pain

Pain is a feeling people don’t want or hate to experience. It’s frustrating and most of the time, it affects our lives. But since pain is very common, we’ve learned to accept that we will all be experiencing some sort of pain at some point of our lives. However, for people who are suffering from Chronic Pain, it’s never easy to accept the fact that the pain doesn’t go away – that they have to deal with it everyday.

What Is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain could actually become the person’s primary disorder

Compared to acute pain which has an identifiable cause and treatment, chronic pain is a persistent pain that could last for months, or even years despite the injury has already been healed. It’s a condition that’s not easy to identify because of its unclear etiology and complex history, besides the fact that the patients has a very poor response to therapy.

And because chronic pain is a condition where you will experience episodes of excruciating pain for several months or even longer, it may disrupt your daily activities and may prevent you to live a normal life which will then cause you to feel hopeless and depressed.

When Does Pain Become Chronic?

Pain is important in our lives. It lets us know that there’s a problem in our body that might need immediate medical attention. However, there are times when the pain isn’t normal anymore – that it already become the person’s primary disorder.

A normal pain usually last for several weeks to several months, but not more than 3 months. If the pain last longer than that period, it’s already considered as chronic. There are many factors involved in the transition of acute to chronic pain. Unfortunately, not all pain are the same and your experiences may be different to the other or vice versa. There are also some cases where you both have similar conditions but only one of you will develop chronic pain. Although there is no clear explanation on how pain becomes chronic, an open communication between you and your doctor will greatly help to better understand your condition.

Symptoms and Characteristics

Persistent pain that has lasted beyond the expected healing period is already considered as chronic pain. And mostly, the following physical symptoms may also occur:

  • Persistent shooting, burning, electrical, or aching pain
  • Stiffness or Tightness
  • Fatigue and Weakness
  • Headache
  • Pain that’s worst when stressed or angry
  • Blurry vision
  • Pain medications’ no longer effective

It is a fact that chronic pain can greatly affect a person’s way of life; it usually limits the ability of that person to do what he or she regularly do. For this reason, other problems, besides the pain itself, may also occur:

  • Disturbed sleeping pattern
  • Irritability, hopelessness, stress, and fear
  • Withdrawn from social activities or relationships
  • Decreased coordination
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating or confusion
  • Somatization

There’s no doubt that more and more people are now experiencing chronic pain. But knowing that it’s not just you who’s suffering from pain doesn’t really make it a lot easier to bear. Chronic pain is a burden and is stealing your chance to live a normal happy life. So, don’t let it interfere with yours; start learning about it, and see what you can do especially if it’s starting to affect not just you, but also those around you.

Chronic Pain: What Causes It?

Almost all people have experienced pain. And almost all people view it as something undesirable that should get rid off. But even though it’s an unpleasant feeling that everyone else avoids, at some point, pain is common and actually plays a vital role in our lives. However, if it’s persistent excruciating pain known as chronic pain, the pain is no longer viewed as a sign or a symptom, but becomes the person’s primary condition itself.

Pain is chronic when you continuously experience episodes of pain for several months or even years. It begins to negatively affect the quality of not just your life, but also those people around you. For this reason, knowing the different causes of chronic pain is of course very important for you.

What Causes Chronic Pain?

Each individual has a possibility to experience chronic pain. Although it’s more common in older people as part of their aging, anyone may develop it after an injury or illness, or even without a known cause. It’s also possible that some chemicals in the brain of the person that typically suppress the pain are not working properly. There are still other factors that might contribute in the development of chronic pain, but what exactly causes it is still not very clear. However, some cases such as the following are being linked to it:

  • Headache
  • Nerve damage
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Lower back pain

In some people, chronic pain develops with no identifiable cause. Although this doesn’t mean that the pain is unreal (remember no one really knows what you feel but you; so whatever the cause is, chronic pain should never be taken for granted and should be given medical attention), studies have found that it might actually be the person himself who’s creating or developing chronic pain. The following are other factors that helps develop or aggravate pain:


An injury, or a certain condition, or even just the fact that the exact cause of pain is unknown, creates fear and anxiety. Usually, the seriousness or severity of their condition is what lots of people worry about. Although it’s normal for a person to be very concerned, still, these negative feelings won’t solve the problem. Anxiety and fear will only increase your chance of developing chronic pain; or it will just make things (pain) worst if you’re already suffering from chronic pain problems,

To avoid developing chronic pain or to not make it worse, you have to regain your control over your condition and know an effective coping strategy that can have a great impact on your pain. You might want to try to write everything you feel (including all your fears and anxieties), talk about your pain to other people, or even get your grief out (feeling sad, crying, etc) so that you can move on. This way lowers down your stress, making it easier for you to deal with the pain.


For some people, pain, especially if it’s severe, is not just a physical sensation, but also an emotional condition that affects behavior, mood, or views of the person, which leads to drug dependence, disinclination to move, and isolation.

Based on research, people with chronic pain have a greater risk of developing depression; and depressed people are more likely to develop chronic pain. Because depression causes low energy, it therefore aggravates physical pain.

While most pain specialists treat both pain and depression, there are other ways to minimize your chances of developing chronic pain due to depression. You may want to undergo cognitive-behavioral therapy that will teach you to avoid discouraging thoughts, and adjust daily physical activities to avoid physical as well as emotional suffering.

Chronic pain is a condition that affects lots of people – their careers, their relationship with the people around them, and their overall quality of life. Proper treatment for an injury or the underlying cause is of course very important, but addressing the person’s emotional and psychological problem is also necessary.

Chronic Pain Diagnosis

An effective treatment and management of pain starts with an extensive assessment and diagnosis. Its purpose is to determine whether further evaluation is needed to be able to understand the pain. Because a clear assessment and diagnosis allows your doctor to identify the pain, its impact, or if there’s other medical problems involved, it’ll be easier to develop an effective and most applicable treatment plan for a certain type of pain.

Since no one can really tell how much pain you’re experiencing, a thorough assessment and documentation is necessary to evaluate your case. Important information such as the severity and quality of pain, its duration and location, certain factors that cause it to be better or worse, psychiatric or medical problems, and previous medical history should all be documented. The following may also be required to diagnose pain:

  • Complete physical exam
  • Other medical conditions and prior treatments (medicines or other conventional treatments that has been tried in the past)
  • Some information about your lifestyle

The above information may all be necessary to diagnose what’s causing the pain and the possible benefits of treatment. Because pain is subjective, that is, an intense pain for one person may not be too painful to the other in spite of having the same condition, it’s important for your doctor to have a clear understanding of pain so as to provide the most effective pain management.

While symptoms and medical history are all important in assessing pain, your doctor may still prescribe other diagnostic procedures such as the following to make sure that he or she has the most accurate diagnosis of your case and that there’s no underlying conditions involved:

  • Laboratory tests – In this procedure, a sample of your blood or urine may be evaluated to check if an infection or other related condition is causing the pain.
  • X ray – This procedure is used to see if there’s damage, injury, or fracture in the joints or bones.
  • EMG/NCV – Electromyography in combination with Nerve Conduction Velocity are performed to see if underlying condition that affects nerves or muscles is involved. These procedures help your doctor to locate the damage on your muscles or nerves by recording the electrical activities in your muscle tissues, and the speed of your nerves’ electrical signals to your brain.
  • MRI – Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan is a procedure that shows images of your body’s structures and tissues. It can give your doctor the most accurate evaluation of the structures in your body and detects if inflammation or other medical condition is causing your pain.
  • Diagnostic Nerve Blocks – This procedure is used not just to determine the primary source of pain, but to provide short-term pain relief as well.

Telling your doctor everything related to your condition can greatly help you

Telling your doctor everything related to your condition can greatly help you

There are different exams and procedures to diagnose pain. A mental health assessment may also be needed as anxiety, depression, stress, or insomnia is also causing chronic pain. Your doctor may also ask you to perform few physical activities to see if your pain problem affects your ability to feel and your reflexes. These exams can greatly help to determine if neurological or nerve problem is involved.

One must understand that pain can’t easily be assessed and measured. Only you or the person experiencing chronic pain can appropriately describe it. Therefore, maintaining an open communication with your healthcare professional is the most important to adequately diagnose and treat chronic pain.

Chronic Pain Treatment and Care

People experience pain differently, and their experience could possibly mean different things. Some people can still continue to work, while there are some who become disabled. For this reason, it is important to know the person’s pain experience to better understand the type of treatment and care that should be applied.

Before, the medical community view pain as a symptom of a disease or injury only. Because they believed that treating the underlying cause will remedy the pain, they’re more focused on identifying its primary source. However, immediate relief is not guaranteed, and such pain can hinder recovery, moreover can damage the person’s quality of life. It is then the medical community started to understand that chronic pain itself can possibly be the one which needs to be treated. Therefore, some other treatments have been developed to treat pain depending on its type, causes, frequency, and its nature and intensity.

Although most chronic pain doesn’t have a cure, it can still be managed through combinations of several types of treatments. Considering the type and severity of the pain, you may have to go through various treatment therapies to reduce pain and improve the quality of your life.

Initial Treatments

Some cases of chronic pain are caused by several factors that may be treated even at home. In such cases, the following initial treatments can be very effective in alleviating pain:

  • Eating a healthy diet and getting enough vitamins
  • Following regular exercise routine
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Using pharmacological pain medications (Analgesics, NSAIDs, etc)

The primary goal of initial treatments is to reduce pain for you to be able to go back to your regular activities. Combination of these treatments is often effective especially if the pain does not involve injury, illness, or an unknown cause.

Ongoing Treatments

If initial treatments don’t work, your physician may have to build a clear treatment plan for your pain. Combination of medicines for pain, inflammation, sleeping problems, and depression may be prescribed to treat chronic pain. You may also be given an injection therapy to reduce inflammation, or you may be offered to undergo electrical stimulation therapy to reduce pain.

In addition to these treatments, other types of therapies are also being considered by many individual to reduce the pain they’re experiencing. This may include the following:

  • Physical therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic therapy
  • Massage
  • Herbal medicines
  • Heat and cold therapy
  • Cognitive behavior therapy
  • Hypnosis
  • Meditation
  • Humor
  • Guided imagery
  • Homeopathy
  • Magnet field therapy
  • Yoga

These complementary therapies help in managing pain, in coping with stress, and in improving your physical and emotional well being. However, you still have to make sure that your doctor is aware of every type of therapy you’re taking.

Because most chronic pain does not have a clear cause, treating it can be really challenging. It may usually require combination of several types of treatments to improve your condition. Therefore, it’s very important that you’re fully aware of your condition by keeping an open communication with your doctor and by knowing all your treatment options.

Pain Management Resource Guide

An Overview

Pain is a common sensation among humans as well as among animals.  It’s an unpleasant feeling that we all experience at different points of our lives. Though it usually serves as an “advance signal” that something is wrong with our body that might need immediate treatment, its undesirable effects can still affect the person’s physical, mental, and emotional well being.

Pain can either be associated with a wide range of disease or injury, or it could be the disease itself. Depending on its cause, different pain relief strategies can be simple or complex. Therefore, it is important to understand the type of pain a person is experiencing to be able to determine which pain management method will be more effective.

Different Types of Pain

Pain is categorized according to duration, intensity, frequency, location, cause, and its characteristics (constant and/or intermittent). Generally, there are two basic categories of pain: Acute Pain, and Chronic (non-malignant) Pain.

Acute Pain

Though no one would want to experience pain, it’s still beneficial as pain draws attention, causing the person to avoid potentially painful situations. With acute pain, it’s commonly associated with a certain injury, indicating that damage has occurred. The following situations can cause acute pain:

  • Surgery
  • Trauma
  • Accidents
  • Dental Problems
  • Strain, Sprain, etc.

Acute pain lasts for a moment. However, there are times when the pain can last for weeks or even months depending on its severity. But the pain is just temporary and will eventually decrease along with healing especially if there’s no systemic disease or no lasting damage exists.

Chronic pain often results in fatigue, depression, or anger

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain often results in fatigue, depression, or anger

Chronic Pain is an intermittent or constant pain that still remains even beyond the expected healing period. It may be defined as pain that last for six months or longer and is often difficult to treat as its origin may be unclear. The most common causes of pain are:

  • Back Pain
  • Headache
  • Joint Pain
  • Pain from Injury

Chronic pain has clearly no purpose and if it remains, it becomes the person’s primary disorder, thus developing adverse effects such as change of appetite, tense muscles, or lack of energy. It also often results in depression, fatigue, and anger. And no matter how a person copes with it, pain that last for an extended duration could result in disability because he or she may not be able to do usual activities he or she is engaged in before the pain has began.

Regardless of its type or cause, pain that is insufficiently treated has harmful effects besides the suffering it brings. Unrelieved pain impairs the person’s ability to sleep, and some other damaging effects that’s most likely to result in complications.