The Reason Neck Cracking Is A Worse Habit Than You Think

Are you a serial neck cracker? You may be doing harm to your body, according to Steven Messe, MD, associate professor of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia. "The risk of cracking is not entirely understood," Messe told WebMD. ”The vertebral arteries run into the bones of the spinal column of the neck," he continued, and ”you can potentially end up blocking that artery when you crack your neck." 

In 2019, a 28-year-old American man suffered from a stroke after stretching his neck. Luckily, the man has since recovered, but it's an important reminder of the link between neck cracking and strokes, however unlikely. "In general, you can't generate enough force or movement on your own to cause a tear of the blood vessel, which ultimately is what probably causes the stroke," says Doojin Kim, MD, co-medical director of the stroke program at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, CA. Kim continued, explaining that "in some, their genetics may make their blood vessels a little more fragile or their connective tissue a little more pliable. So, in general, I recommend patients don't do it." In other words, neck cracking just isn't worth the risk, even if it is minimal.

But what if you feel the need to crack your neck?

If neck cracking has become a habit, it's best to see a doctor or qualified professional to ensure you are cracking it correctly and avoiding any risk of damage. According to by Heathline, if you're cracking your neck regularly but never feel satisfied, a chiropractor may be able to help "manipulate your joints to make sure they're aligned, which can prevent the feeling of pressure or pain that makes you want to crack your neck." They may also be able to give you advice on how to minimize neck pressure or pain, which is likely to be the cause of your neck cracking habit.