Many people commonly crack their own necks and backs in order to gain some relief or a ‘pressure release’. There is no denying that it can give some relief in the short term, but in the long run, it may be detrimental to your spinal health.
If your neck cracks by a simple turn or bend of the head, or your lower back by a twist, it is likely that the joints are actually hypermobile (moving too much). This means that you are self-manipulating and increasing the movement of joints that are already moving too much.
These joints may be moving too much in order to compensate for a lack of movement in other joints. If joints of the spine are restricted, other joints will attempt to make up for the lack of movement. These are the joints that will crack easily, and not the joints that are causing the problems.
Spinal pain is often due to this phenomenon. If a joint has to increase its movement due to a restriction somewhere else, more stress is placed upon the supporting ligaments. With this extra movement, the joint is more prone to sprain and resultant pain. Cracking these joints will give short term relief only. In order for sustained improvement, the actual cause must be addressed. This is where a chiropractor comes into play. Chiropractors are trained to locate and treat the cause of your problems.
So the nagging from your mother about cracking your knuckles too much-causing arthritis may be true to some extent. If the joints are moving too much, over a long period bony change may occur in order to stabilise the movement. When this bony growth begins in an attempt to lock-off the joint, it is known as degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis.