I'm 31 male. Yesterday I went to a Physical Therapist for TMJ treatment. The therapist was massaging my jaw and then moved to my neck to massage that. Without warning he forcefully cranked my neck to the left and it popped really loud three times.
I got upset with him and told him ever to do that again that he wasn't a chiropractor and he responded that he knew chiropractor movements. I've never been to a chiropractor by the way.
Ever since then whenever I walk I hear a loud crackling, like pop rocks sound in my lower neck, right above my shoulders. I don't have pain, though my neck is somewhat stiff now. The sound isn't present when moving the neck at all, left, right, up or down. Just when walking.
Did he do permanent damage to my neck? Should I seek treatment? What type of doctor should I see? Will the crackling go away or am I stuck with this forever and soon my neck will start to become very painful? I'm freaking out over this and need to know a solution.
A ‘crackling neck’ is a clearly audible sound caused by either turning (rotation) or tilting (lateral flexion) of the head. In most cases, the clicking sound is a result of tight neck muscles causing the vertebrae to rub against each other during certain movements. While there may be no other symptoms present apart from a clicking neck sound, with time the persistent muscle spasm will lead to headaches, neck or upper back pain. In most cases of a clicking neck, ‘cracking’ the joints (medical term ~ articular release) usually resolves the clicking noise and eases tightness of the joint.
Causes of a Clicking Neck
Most cases of a clicking neck are harmless but indicate a progressing condition, if the clicking noise can be repeated with every tilt or twist of the head. Usually the strain on the vertebrae is caused by spasm (knots or cramps) of the trapezius muscle of the back or the sternocleidomastoid muscle of the neck. This is commonly one-sided but can occur on both sides of the neck and back. The spasm causes the muscle to ‘shorten’ and pull on the bones of the spine (vertebral column). By attempting to move your head in the opposite direction, against the pull of the spasm, a clicking sound may be heard.
• Cavitation is a common term used by chiropractors and the cracking sound you may hear when having a chiropractic adjustment. It is a result of a a force causing a temporary vacuum within the joint, which then collapses and causes a clicking noise. Gas bubbles within any joint fluid can also cause this snapping noise.
• Herniated vertebral disc (bulging disc) may cause two neighboring vertebrae (bones of the spine) to lie closely together and rub against each other upon quick movement. The articulating vertebral facets (point at which two vertebrae rub together) may also cause a clicking noise in certain conditions where the joint is not adequately ‘lubricated’ and flexible.
• Rapid stretching of ligaments may cause a snapping noise, especially when there is sufficient force in the opposite direction, possibly from severe muscle spasm.
• Adhesions in the joints may also cause a clicking noise during twisting and turning the head as it impairs the movement. Technically this is usually more of a grating sound
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