I heard a POP!


A common question among chiropractic patients is “what’s with the pop?”

Before we answer that, let’s take a quick look at the anatomy of joints and the goal of a chiropractic adjustment. Most of the joints in our spine and extremities are called synovial joints, meaning that they are fairly movable and contain a liquid called synovial fluid which lubricates and nourishes the joint.

One goal of a chiropractor is to regain proper joint function, meaning to correct the position of opposing joint surfaces and/or restore proper movement of a joint. During a typical chiropractic “adjustment” the joint surfaces are gapped or opened slightly causing a cavitation; literally a conversion of synovial fluid into a gas composed of oxygen, nitrogen and CO2. This conversion process produces a distinctive popping sound, very similar to the release of gas bubbles when you open a soda can. Once the cavitation occurs (the pop) the gas is gradually reabsorbed into the joint and converted slowly back into synovial fluid.

Some of the after effects of the “adjustment” include restoration of joint movement, realignment of joint surfaces and in many cases pain relief. The relief you receive may be dependent on your situation, how severe the dysfunction may be, and how long your condition has been going on; however, most people experience at least some immediate relief from their symptoms.

But wait… I heard something else!

Depending on where the adjustment is performed it’s not uncommon for other “noises” to be heard, also a type of gas release. While this isn’t always the case, it can be sometimes embarrassing, if not always funny. When push comes to shove, remember that the pop is sometimes worse when it comes with a smell… but you feel better either way, and THAT’S what is important!