Dear Dr. Diaz,
My 11 year old son, Kyle, began adjusting his neck by pushing sideways and upwards on his chin. Within the past few months he has increased the force required to get relief from the tension in his neck. When I asked him about it, he said the back of his neck hurts and when he “pops” it, it feels better. Now, as I said, it requires more force to adjust his neck, and he is doing it so often it seems habitual.
I am wondering if this self adjusting poses any risk and/or danger. I copied Kyle’s father on this email. If you would be so kind to indulge us with information we need to get corrective treatment for Kyle, I would appreciate it.
Thank you, and much gratitude in advance.
Dear Concerned Parent,
What you are describing has the potential for hazard to his health. While an occasional “self adjustment” is no big deal, when someone does it habitually it can damage the joints in the spine making them hyper-mobile and unstable, especially in a young, undeveloped spine. While it likely feels good after he has adjusted himself the relief he feels is only temporary. That’s because the joints that he is likely moving are the ones that move too much already, while the ones that are really restricted remain stuck. That’s why he feels compelled to do it again 20 minutes later, but the pattern of repeated and habitual “cracking” only serves to exacerbate the problem.
The hyper-mobility created by this habit can make an injury to the spine even worse. For instance should he be involved in a rear-end auto accident he would likely sustain greater injury due to the joint laxity. Also, there is the chance that by forcefully torqing his head to “crack” his neck he could actually tear the vertebral artery in the upper neck resulting in a stroke or even death. While this type of event is relatively rare, it does happen. There was a case of a man in his late 30’s here in Orange County several years ago who died after suffering a massive stroke caused by a tear in the vertebral artery for self adjusting his spine by grabbing his head and pushing on his chin to crack his neck.
I would recommend that you insist that he stop this immediately for the reason’s stated above. If you’d like I can take a look at him to see if I can find anything that may be causing his feeling the need to self adjust and if so I can take care of that but in the interim he needs to begin weaning himself from this habit.
Dr. Brett Diaz, D.C.
My toddler is 30 months old. His neck pops every time he moves his to the right or to the left. He don’t complain but as soon I start softly massaging him he says it hurts.
Dear Mr Diaz,
My son is 8 yrs old and a twin. Over the last 6 months my son has been throwing his head back quite repeatedly and aggressively. He now has a loud clicking that comes from when he throws his head back. When I ask him why is he doing it…he says because his neck hurts. This appeared from no where , I asked the local doctor and she said it is a tick but my gut is telling me that this is not right! I don’t think an 8 yr old should have such noises coming from his neck. Please can you tell me how I deal with this and what happens if he continues?
I’m 13 and I my neck keeps crunching without me doing anything I keep getting lightheaded and lower back pain my younger sister has scoliosis which is curvature of the spine is this a symptom?
Avais Cummings says
Hi my two year old son pop his neck 20 minutes ago and he’s playing normal but when he lean his head back it hurts and he hold his neck.
Hi Doctor, I’m 12 years old and I usually pop my neck by softly twisting my neck left to right.
By what you said above I was wondering if I continue what problems it could lead to, thanks.
Lisa Harlow says
My son is 8 yrs old and Over the last month my son has been rolling or bending his head back frequently. He has clicking noise that comes from when he rolls his head back. When I ask him why is he doing it…he says because his neck hurts. His Dr. thought it may be from the way he sleeps or a fall. I thought this rolling banding neck movement would have stopped by now. Please can you tell me how I deal with this or what the issue may be? I’m getting very concerned. Thanks
I keep cracking my neck and it feels like my back of my neck is burning what do I do I am only 9 I think I may get a stroke cuz I’ve been cracking my neck for 7 months
Dear doctor Diaz, I’m 10 and when I rotate my neck, there’s a loud cracking sound, and it’s hurts sometimes b4 I do it but after I feel better. Pls help me figure out why
I’m a tween and I just started to realize that popping my neck isn’t very good i haven’t been doing it for at least a solid 3 months. But when I was 7.8 and 9, I would pop my neck all the time. I am starting to have back pains and neck pains. Does anyone have any advice on what to do?
My 9 almost 10 year old grandson pops his neck constantly by pushing it side to side . Then he pop his back by pulling his shoulder in and around . He does have a curve in his spine in his middle back . He started out having loud popping sound everytime he moved his head backwards several years ago . We had exray done they noted nothing unusual. He was also in a motorbike accident under his Dad care. When he wrecked went airborne was knocked out for a little while . His dad said he got up and was fine . . Note when he was returned he was quiet the rest if the day .. He has a very long neck I have noticed his has more of bulge in his cervical spine lately. Is there reason to be more concerned since cray were suppose to ok ?
Lakarri brown says
Hi my I am 12 years old and I had the same neck crick since I was 10 I can’t get rid of it I crack my neck and everything but no matter what I do I can’t get rid of it. Also, it makes my spine hurt