Hypermobile Joints / Lax liagments

  • Community Lead

    This info was dissected from the article from The SpineCare Chiropractic group titled Don't Crack Your Neck!.

    If you often crack or pop your neck yourself, it probably means that the joints are hypermobile. The ligaments are a bit lax so the joints move a little more than they should. In response, the muscles tighten up to stabilize the joints. This makes your neck feel tight and makes you want to crack it. When you do that, the muscles are momentarily stretched, they relax somewhat, and you feel better for a while. But when you crack your neck you also stretch the loose ligaments further which makes the muscles tighten up again. It’s a vicious cycle.

    Hypermobility should not be confused with clinical instability.

    Sadly, this does make a lot of sense. :roll: It is possible the experienced pressure feeling is NOT due to the joints themselves but due to tightened muscles directly adjoining these joints due to lax liagements due to joint hypermobility which is enforced by repeated joint cracking. It is a vicious cylce indeed.

    They also posted this typical scenario:

    The scenario goes something like this: You're under a lot of stress and your neck feels tight. This morning you drove all over town meeting with clients. You were late for a meeting and the client left before you could get there. The next client stood you up. Now you're back at the office staring at your computer screen. Your company just upgraded and you can't get the program to do what it's suppose to do. Your neck feels like it's in a vice. Without giving it much thought you put one hand on the back of your head, cup your chin in the palm of the other hand, and twist sharply. Your neck emits popping sounds like a string of firecrackers on Chinese New Year. You twist in the other directions, hearing and feeling another series of cracks. Aaahh … that's better! But soon the stress mounts again, tension builds, and you find yourself twisting your neck again. Each time the results are less satisfying. By the end of the day you feel like you've been through the ringer, and so does your neck.

    Bad news for all joint crackers:

    The bad news for "self-manipulators." If you are a chronic neck-popper, you are very likely stretching the ligaments which support and stabilize your neck joints. Stretched ligaments result in a condition called hypermobility in which the joints lose their natural springy end play. To someone skilled at feeling joint motion, like a chiropractor, this loss of springiness can be detected. It is sometimes jokingly referred to as “floppy disc syndrome,” although the discs in the neck are not directly affected. As the ligaments become more lax, the small muscles that connect one vertebra to the next become tight. They have to work harder to make up for the loss of stability due to the lax ligaments. This makes your neck feel tight. As the muscle tension builds and your neck becomes more and more uncomfortable, you feel the urge to manipulate your neck. CRACK! The muscles are stretched, they relax, and you feel some relief. Of course, this manipulation also stretched those already loose ligaments, and the vicious cycle starts over again.

    Hypermobility can be congenital (i.e., hereditary) or acquired. Teens tend to have hypermobile spinal joints. This is normal and will usually resolve as the skeleton and supporting tissues finish growing. However, if neck cracking becomes a habit, then the problem can continue into adulthood. Clinical evidence suggests that hypermobile spinal joints become arthritic at a faster rate than normal joints. Hypermobility can also result from injuries such as whiplash, or it can be self-inflicted. Some popping in the back or neck occurs spontaneously with movement and may be normal.

    Right now I believe we might have found the physiological reasons driving us to crack our joints over and over again and again.

    I'm sure the above does not only apply to the spine but to all joints.

    What do you think?

  • Community Lead

    I'm only a little bit confused why I for one didn't score more Beighton points.

    Maybe to trigger Jointcracktitis with the cause Hypermobile Joints / Lax liagments only very slight hypermobility is required which does not fully register on the Beighton test? :roll:

  • Community Lead

    The spine guys strike again adding more input. I found this article by the spinalinjuryfoundation.org on instability:

    The ligaments hold the bones and joints together. A good example of this is the index finger. If you take your index finger and bend it back as far as it will go, the ligaments that hold the joints together will only let you go so far. However, if one of those ligaments was torn or stretched, the index finger joint it was protecting would move around too much. This would cause pain and swelling in the joint as well as popping and cracking. The joint would become unstable.

    The ligaments that hold the neck bones together are vulnerable to being overstretched and or torn in a car wreck. Common symptoms are as follows:

    • popping, cracking, or grinding in the neck with movement

    • pain and often spasm that's gets much worse with activity

    • Numbness or tingling into the hand(s) or feet that gets worse with activity or with the popping, cracking, or grinding

    Flexion-extension views can be a good way to help diagnose this problem. A detailed physical exam where the physician tests the spine segment by segment is also essential.

  • You have to have hypermobile joints to crack them in the first place usually. Or a lot of stretching.

  • or injury, like if you get smacked in the back by a "friend" like i did 😞

  • Yes but that is not how the majority start i think.

  • I'd be surprised if inborn wrist, toe, and finger flexibility can be increased much by any means, so I'm inclined to believe that hypermobility plus probably stiffness precedes the first sweet crack. Beighton is of limited value in measuring hypermobility, IMO.

  • Beighton?

  • @knuckled:

    I'd be surprised if inborn wrist, toe, and finger flexibility can be increased much by any means, so I'm inclined to believe that hypermobility plus probably stiffness precedes the first sweet crack. Beighton is of limited value in measuring hypermobility, IMO.

    Wrong thread?

    Inborn wrist? move it to the opposite side?

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