Have you heard people say this when they talk about a chiropractic adjustment?

I’m going in to get cracked!


My chiropractor pops me back into place!

Many clients and patients of chiropractic will say that they get ‘cracked’ or ‘popped’ when they go in for an adjustment because that’s what it sounds like. 

I asked some of my clients about what they thought was going on.  I was astounded!

Some thought I was actually cracking their bones and reshaping them to where they need to be!  Uhm, that’s not what we are doing. 

It’s time for a little education of what happens in the chiropractic adjustment.

There are many techniques in chiropractic.  The one described here is what I’ll refer to as the manual adjustment.  Other techniques that I use in my Calgary Chiropractic office, I will list below. 

Typically, the manual adjustment involves:

  • A fast short thrust applied to a vertebra.
  • An “audible” release of gas (the crack!) in the joint space is heard.  It is also called a cavitation.

So what gives?  Why is your chiropractor mad when you say, “Crack me!”?  Well, he or she thinks that you are belittling the adjustment.  They look at it like this.  It took 7 years of post secondary school, countless hours of clinical training, a thorough exam (for you) to find out where you Pringlesneed to be adjusted and now you are just going to call it “getting cracked”. 

I get what you mean and I don’t get angry… anymore.  When you walk in and say, “My back needs to be popped like a can of pringles.”, I know what you mean.  You need an adjustment.  It is kind of like the po-tat-oes pot-at-oes type of thing.  It doesn’t matter how you say it, you just want to feel better at the end of it, I get that.

Other Types of Adjustments.

There are many techniques in chiropractic.  Some are going to give that ‘cavitation’ sound and others are not. 

Here are some of the techniques I use in my office.

  • Gonstead – This is a manual adjustment that is accompanied with a cavitation.
  • Diversified – This is probably the most common technique.  It is a manual technique.
  • Activator – This technique uses an instrument and follows a protocol.  No Cavitation with this technique.
  • Thompson Drop – this technique is table assisted where pieces of the table actually drop an inch or two.  Manual pressure is applied, but, typically, there is No Cavitation with this technique.
  • Extremity Adjusting– This manual or instrumented assisted type of adjustments on the extremities (arms, legs, ankles, wrists, etc.) may or may not have cavitations. 
  • Toggle – This technique uses a drop table.  No Cavitations here. 

I bet your next question is, “Which adjustment is better?”  My answer to that is the one that works for you.  If you are afraid of a manual adjustment and tense up during it, then that one is probably not for you. 

You need to find an adjustment that is comfortable for you and get the results you want.  The whole goal of us chiropractors is to get you feeling better as quick as possible. 

What about the audible or “crack”?  Is it better?  I found this article.  Does an audible release improve the outcome of a chiropractic adjustment?  “To conclude, an audible release may improve the outcome of a chiropractic adjustment, but therapeutic benefits of the audible release are likely to be psychological, and not physiological.”

Now you know!