To Crack Or Not To Crack

When I was 18, I dislocated my right shoulder. It’s never been the same since. And now I go through phases where every few hours or so this pressure builds up and feels like the joint wants to crack. So I shrug my shoulder and “POP” – it lets out a loud crack!

A few years ago it was feeling particularly fierce, and started to ache and hurt. And I was still cracking it every few hours. I just happened to be attending a workshop on orthopedic acupuncture, and the teacher mentioned that you should never crack your joints.

Here’s how she explained it.

There are ligaments that hold all of your bones together, and sometimes they can get tight or loosen up. When you feel the urge to crack a joint, that is a loose ligament that’s causing some misalignment. When you crack it, it stretches the ligament further, loosening it even more, which then causes the surrounding ligaments to tighten in order to compensate. This is what is causing your pain.

So I decided right then and there that I must fight the urge to crack that shoulder! For a few days after that, it was really difficult to remember. And a few times it just cracked on it’s own. But in about 5 days there was no more pain.

Ever since this experience, I’ve recommended the same to all my patients.

If you can just get through the first few days and fight that urge to crack, you will be rewarded with less pain and more stable joints.

In addition, if you've got pain remaining even after quitting that cracking habit, acupuncture can help relieve it, while helping those ligaments to balance out.

And now I’d love to hear from you! Have you ever had a joint that just won’t stop cracking? Have you gotten relief from sustaining from cracking it? Do you have anything else to add to the discussion?


Elizabeth Williams is an acupuncturist in Greenville, South Carolina, specializing in pain management, women’s health, and psycho-emotional issues. She’s passionate about helping people feel their best and sharing her wealth of knowledge with the community. Elizabeth is the owner of Dragonfly Acupuncture & Massage, on Wade Hampton Boulevard. Appointments can be made by calling 864-451-4313, or scheduled online