Neck cracking

Fact Checked

Cracking is the characteristic sound that can be heard when twisting the neck in certain direction. It is the cracking sound when folding the knuckles or toes. Some people find relief in cracking their necks especially when feeling tired or the neck is strained. Some people have the habit of cracking their toes, back and knuckles.

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Cracking of the neck or any other areas of the body only gives temporary relief and by regularly doing it, the bones of the neck and tissues that are connected to them can become damaged and result to pain in the neck and early development of osteoarthritis of the neck.


  • Damage to the muscles and ligaments that function in supporting the neck such as movements that involves bending and twisting.
  • Muscles and ligaments found in the neck becomes stressed or strained and certain strong movements can produce cracking sound.
  • Cracking of the neck can be caused by cervical osteoarthritis which is a degenerative condition of the cervical bone that results to stiffness and pain in the neck.
    Neck cracking
    Pain and headache that spreads from the shoulder
  • The neck vertebra is lubricated by the synovial fluid which is a thick fluid that surrounds the bones of the neck. This fluid produces 2 types of gases such as carbon dioxide and the nitrogen which form bubbles in the fluid. During movements of the neck, the bubbles may burst and produce a cracking sound.
  • When the ligaments that support the bones of the neck slips from its surface due to movement of the neck.


  • Pain and headache that spreads from the shoulder
  • Repeated cracking sound affects the movement of the neck.
  • Tingling, numbness sensation can be felt in the arms and fingers
  • The muscle of the neck is sore and tender when touched.
  • Sometimes, the cause of stroke in young people can be due to cracking of the neck since it can damage the blood vessels in the cervical artery.


  • Perform exercises that can help the neck stay flexible. Move the neck below until it touches the chest to help stretch the back muscles in the neck then move it backwards. Stretch the neck sideways to release the muscle strain. Perform this procedure at least 2-3 times every day.
  • Massage regularly the muscles of the neck to help increase the blood circulation and prevent spasm of the neck muscles.
  • Apply a warm compress on the affected area. Use a heating pack or a hot water bottle to help lessen the stiffness caused by the neck muscle spasms.
  • Seek the help of a physical therapist for suitable rehabilitation exercises to eliminate the cracking sound in the neck.
  • Wear a neck collar if the condition becomes severe for added support.

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