Why Self-Adjustment Is a Bad Idea

The benefits of spinal adjustment from a licensed chiropractor are well documented, but some people might prefer to take a do-it-yourself approach to chiropractic care by cracking their own necks and backs. While these so-called “self-adjustments” may produce desirable effects in the short term, they often do not address the underlying problem, and in fact might even make it worse.

Short-Term Relief

You may experience pressure in the joints of your spine that makes you want to crack your neck and/or your back. Once you do so, you may feel relief of the pain and pressure that you’re experiencing. The relief comes from two sources:

  • Bubbles of gas in the synovial fluid of the joint pop, releasing pressure.
  • The body releases natural painkillers called endorphins.

Endorphins relieve the pain and help you feel better, but they only work on a short-term basis, lasting 15 to 20 minutes at most. Because a self-adjustment doesn’t address the underlying problem, the pain and pressure are likely to build up again, and you may be tempted to perform another self-adjustment. This pattern can lead to spine cracking becoming a compulsive habit.


When you crack your back or neck, it is unlikely that you’re mobilizing the joint that is causing your trouble. You’re more likely only moving the joints adjacent to it, which is why your self-adjustment doesn’t address the underlying problem. Furthermore, there are 16 different directions in which your vertebrae can move, so the odds are good that you’re not mobilizing your spine in the right direction. An adjustment from a chiropractor in Takoma Park, MD only takes place after the professional has conducted a thorough examination to determine which joint needs mobilization and which direction it needs to move.

Collateral Damage

A vertebral malalignment may cause a spinal joint to become rigid, which is often what causes your back or neck pain. The nearby joints need to become extra mobile in order to compensate. By cracking your back or neck, you’re most likely mobilizing these other joints, and the additional stress can cause them to become hyper-flexible, which could lead to the development of arthritis and other issues. Not only that, but mobilizing the wrong joints could actually put increased pressure on the problem area.

Even with all their knowledge and expertise, even licensed chiropractors cannot perform effective self-adjustments. Due to the potential for injury due to the forceful spinal manipulation involved, you should never receive a spinal adjustment from anyone who does not have the requisite education, experience, and credentials in chiropractic technique. Contact an office for more information.


For more information, contact AmeriWell Clinics for insight into chiropractic care and self adjustments.