What's the pop?What is the "pop" you hear when you have your Spine manipulated by an Osteopath?
Article by : Islington’s Angel Osteopathic Clinic (www.angelosteopathicclinic.co.uk/)
- What is the “pop” you hear when you receive and osteopathic manipulation?
- What are the benefits to the body from an osteopathic manipulation?
Osteopaths are probably best known for their ability to relieve back pain, through various soft tissue techniques and manipulation of the spine is probably their most well known. As the “pop” often associated with spine manipulation this is just one type of many differing techniques used by a registered osteopath.
An osteopath is trying to restore function and stability not only to your spine, but also to your underlying blood supply and nervous system. Trying to get your brain to “talk” to every part of your body, to help you reach your full potential.
What is the “popping” sound you hear when you visit an osteopath?
There is fluid between each of the joints in your spine. When you hear that sound (which is called a “cavitation”), it is simply gas being released from that fluid – it is not the bone cracking! It is just like the sound you hear when you pop the lid off a new jar of jam – in the back it is the sound of gas being released from within the fluid.
Not all adjustments create this sound, so the effectiveness of an adjustment should not be judged by the presence or loudness of the sound. The aim here is to get the vertebrae to move in the correct motion thereby having an affect on the underlying tissues and nervous system.
The sound seems louder when you get your neck adjusted simply because your neck is closer to your ears!
There is a lot more to osteopathic manipulation than just joint popping. In fact the audible pop doesn’t even need to occur for a successful manipulation, though it often does, and some patients and doctors like to hear it. Research has found that pop or not, the same benefits are experienced and that trying repeatedly to get a pop can actually cause damage.
Benefits of the “Crack”
Proprioceptive stimulation triggers the release of endorphins from the spine. These endorphins cause a near instant and temporary relief similar to pain medication making you less aware of the problem.
Osteopathic manipulation is thought to provide improved nutrient supply. The cartilage and other structures inside of a joint have no blood supply. These structures get their nutrients through motion.
Manipulation can reduce pressure on the nerves. Your nervous system is the control centre of your body. Nerves and nerve bundles are soft tissue and they don’t function well under physical pressure. In fact it has been shown that inflammation, a bulging disc, or fragment of disc floating around can interfere with proper nerve conduction. The adjustment can cause a relief of this pressure through movement of the joint to the correct position, or motion.
Proprioceptive retraining allows for improved function. The brain also records these proprioceptive signals from the joints motion. Especially for chronic conditions the brain is in need of retraining regarding the motion of that joint. Manipulation takes a joint through its full range of motion. This new input is then stored and replayed in the brain, similar to muscle retraining that physical therapists will do, or physical training of athletes, when the body has done the motion enough times it remembers it. This retraining provides a functional correction that may provide pain relief.