Snap, Crackle and Pop: What Causes Noisy Adjustments?


Have you ever heard your knees pop when you squat down? Did you hear a sound from your back when you stood up from bending over? Or perhaps you used to crack your knuckles when you were young. Those are the same sounds you may hear during a chiropractic adjustment. No need for alarm: it is not only perfectly normal and, when performed by a licensed professional, it is also perfectly safe. There are a number of reasons for this strange phenomenon that are not so strange at all. Listening to your body is the first step on your journey to a pain-free life and a licensed chiropractor in Baltimore, MD is your guide.


The lubricating fluid, known as synovial fluid, surrounding your vertebrae and joints contain bubbles of gas: specifically oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. During a chiropractic adjustment, the joints undergo a quick stretching movement that allows the gas bubble to “pop”, causing the sound you hear. This is called Joint Cavitation. There is no harm from the release of the gas bubbles.

Tendons and Ligaments

Sometimes joints can move slightly out of place. When this occurs, the tendons and ligaments may also be pulled out of alignment. During an adjustment when the joint is returned to its correct position, you may hear a snapping or popping noise when the ligament moves back into place. Additionally, it is common to hear cracking sounds in the ankles or knees when tendons become tight. Chiropractic care can help heal or prevent the symptoms of tendonitis from tight tendons.

Uneven surfaces

Many factors can cause the cartilage of joints to become pitted, ragged or uneven. This can occur from wear, injury and most commonly, with arthritis. The rough surface can make grinding, creaking or grating sounds when being manipulated. This is called crepitation. When the cartilage is worn thin or completely gone, it no longer protects the bones from rubbing against each other. In this case, you may hear a rubbing or grating sound from the bones moving against each other.

As you move through your day, you may hear popping, creaking or cracking sounds. Though they may be normal, any associated pain or swelling is not. If you are feeling pain, you should seek out a professional. A licensed Chiropractor can help to safely gain free movement by restoring spinal alignment. They may also be able to diagnose and treat the cause of the pain and swelling, preventing further injury to joints and soft tissues.


Thanks to Mid-Atlantic Spinal Rehab & Chiropractic for insight into chiropractic care.