One of the most common questions physical therapists receive is if “pops” and “cracks” are good or bad for your joints.
First of all, we need to understand what causes the popping and cracking in our joints.
Physical therapists are trained to be able to safely and intentionally create a pop or a crack through what we call manipulations. Manipulations are maneuvers that involve a high velocity and low amplitude thrust (HVLAT) force to a joint. This can be applied to different body parts including most commonly the neck and back areas. Some people are able to self-manipulate and get a pop on their own, such as cracking their neck or knuckles. The pop that we hear with a manipulation is the release of intra-articular gasses due to a quick release of pressure within the joint.1 It is also important to note that there is no evidence that pops and cracks in the joints result in early arthritis or any future problems.2
Although it’s one of the biggest and most important joints in the human body, the hip joint is sometimes overlooked when evaluating, treating and diagnosing musculoskeletal conditions. With normal movement patterning, the hip is used heavily for bending, twisting, rotating and propelling forward. Mechanical breakdowns will occur if the hip is unable to function at peak efficiency, often at other segments like the knee or lumbar spine.
Shoulder pain is both common and frustrating, as there are many things that could be contributing to discomfort in that area. To have a better idea of what may be causing your pain, let’s get a little background on how the shoulder works.