How to Stop Cracking Knuckles
An estimated 25-54% of people crack their knuckles on a daily basis, most of them males. To some, waking up and stretching, cracking and popping their knuckles, back, neck and other parts of the body just feels good and comes naturally. "Don't do that, you'll get arthritis!" you may have heard people say. It comes off as an old wives' tale, but does it actually hold any weight? Does cracking your knuckles (or other parts of the body) actually do long-term damage? I'm a chronic knuckle popper -- how do I stop?
What Causes Cracking in Joints?
First and foremost, it's important to understand what causes the popping sounds when you crack your joints -- a mystery that still isn't 100% solved, but there are a couple of leading theories. The first one involves synovial fluid bubbles. Synovial fluid is a viscous fluid found in synovial joints, which are the most movable types such as the shoulders, knees, wrists, etc. When a joint is pulled, gas present inside of the join is released, forming gas bubbles within the synovial fluid. The presence of the bubbles and the sudden change of pressure causes them to burst, which in turn cause the popping sound you hear when you crack your knuckles.
Another, more probable, theory involves something called cavitation. This is when cavities form inside of a joint when pulled, bent, twisted or otherwise manipulated. These cavities are formed within the synovial fluid and then rapidly collapse, creating the sharp audible popping sound.
Is it Safe to Crack Your Knuckles (or Other Joints)?
The claim that cracking your knuckles leads to arthritis is not supported by any scientific evidence. However, in a study done in 2011, it was found that knuckle crackers are more likely to have chronic hand swelling and lower grip strength than those who do not habitually crack their knuckles. That being said, the study also failed to acknowledge that since knuckle cracking is often used as a stress reliever, habitual knuckle crackers were also more likely to take part in other activities such as manual labor, smoking, nail biting and alcohol consumption which may be the main factors in swollen hands and grip strength. This means that cracking your knuckles is correlated with hand issues, but is not necessarily the cause of them. But all in all, no, cracking your knuckles will not give you arthritis.
How to Stop Cracking Your Knuckles
However, even though cracking your knuckles may not give you arthritis, it can still have other negative effects. It can cause joint swelling, negatively impact hand strength or could be a side effect of anxiety. But most of all, it probably annoys the people around you. So if you look at it from a behavioral perspective, you may still want to try quitting cracking your joints -- here's how.
While cracking your knuckles is mostly relatively harmless, other things can cause a snapping or popping sound, such as when tendons snap over joints. For instance, if you feel/hear your shoulder popping over and over again as you lift weights, it could indicate that the muscles are tight and some extra stretching may be needed before you begin your workout. If the snapping becomes painful and radiates to other parts of the body, cease strenuous activity immediately, take a warm shower to loosen the muscles, and visit a chiropractor. Painful popping in the joints could indicate a torn muscle or other injury. Your chiropractor can help to heal it to get you back on track.
For any further questions or to schedule a consultation, give me a call. I'll help to develop a personalized treatment regimen that will help you become more limber, coordinated and balanced.
Frequently Asked Questions About Chiropractic
Throughout the years of my chiropractic practice, I've fielded a lot of questions from patients. I've found that many of the questions are rooted in misunderstandings and misinformation surrounding chiropractic care, so here I've compiled some of the most frequently asked questions I get from both potential and existing patients, and answer them to the best of my ability.
Q: What is chiropractic care?
A: Chiropractic is a non-invasive, drug-free method of physical treatment to alleviate a myriad of conditions, although it is most commonly sought after for back and neck pain. Chiropractors physically manipulate specific areas of the body in order to fix subluxations (spinal misalignments) that negatively affect nerves, muscles and organs which can lead to other physical complications.
Q: At what age is it safe to start receiving chiropractic?
A: The short answer is: any age. Now for the longer answer; my practice is family-oriented, meaning I am licensed to treat people of all ages -- from toddlers to young kids and teenagers to the elderly.
Q: Is chiropractic painful?
A: No. While you may feel some pressure or some very temporary discomfort, but chiropractic treatment very rarely painful. There may be some soreness the day after your first couple of sessions, but your body will get used to it and over time the soreness fades. However, if you've recently undergone surgery or experienced some sort of injury, tell your chiropractor before you begin treatment. If treatment starts to become painful, immediately let your chiropractor know.
Q: What kind of conditions can chiropractic treat?
A: While chiropractic treatment is most commonly used for back and neck pain, it can be used to treat a wide variety of ailments including:
Q: Will insurance cover chiropractic care?
A: Yes, most insurance policies will cover chiropractic care. According to the American Chiropractic Association, an estimated 87% of insured American workers have policies that will cover it.
Q: Is chiropractic safe to receive after an injury?
A: Eventually, after the healing process, yes. It also depends on the injury. Breaking an ankle shouldn't have too much effect on treating back pain. But recently undergoing back surgery will. Before you begin treatment, be sure to inform your chiropractor of any recent surgeries or injuries you've had during the initial consultation page.
Q: When should I see a chiropractor?
A: Any time! While chiropractic care is most often used for treating pain, seeing a chiropractor regularly even without pre-existing pain is a good idea. It strengthens the core muscles and preserves the spine and promotes a healthier lifestyle that includes stretching, exercise and balanced diet.
Seminar: Arp-Wave Neurotherapy
Join us on July 8th from 12:30-2PM for a new, informative seminar and demonstration on the benefits of using Arp-Wave neurotherapy to reduce or eliminate chronic pain!
Light refreshments will be served.
The 8 Great Benefits of Arp-Wave Neurotherapy
We offer patients a level of improvement to strength, mobility and chronic pain relief that is unmatched by any traditional rehabilitation procedure. ARPwaveUSA's Neuro Therapy offers almost immediate relief from chronic pain, better muscular performance and a return to the life that patients could only dream about prior to treatment.
Everything You Need to Know About Text Neck
If you keep up-to-date with the latest medical trends and afflictions, you may have heard about the aptly named 'text neck'. But if you haven't heard of it, it is pretty much exactly what it sounds like -- soreness/stiffness in the neck caused by repeatedly looking down at a mobile device for long periods of time. This condition is a modern issue (obviously) and is getting worse. As cell phones become more prevalent among younger and younger people, text neck and poor posture will become significant issues. Recent studies have shown that 87% of teens in the US and 79% of teens in the UK own and use smartphones each day.
Text Neck Symptoms
Contrary to what you may be thinking, your neck isn't the only thing that will hurt, depending on the severity of text neck. You may also feel one or more of the following symptoms:
More serious conditions associated with text neck:
How Do I Fix Text Neck?
First and foremost, avoid using a mobile device for long periods of time. If you have to look at your phone for prolonged periods of time, put it on a stand or hold it evenly with your eyes. This will make it easier to sit up straight and avoid bad posture habits while on your phone.
For more severe cases of text neck, apply an ice or heat pack to the back of your neck, try out massage therapy and be sure to do stretches and chin-tuck exercises every day.
One of the best things you can do to cure or even avoid text neck entirely is regularly seeing a chiropractor. A qualified chiropractor will be able to more accurately diagnose the issue and give a treatment regimen custom-tailored to your needs. As a family chiropractor, I'm able to treat all sorts of afflictions -- including text neck. Schedule a consultation to get started today!
Back Pain Statistics in The United States
Chronic back pain is a serious affliction that can greatly impact not only your physical health, but also other aspects of your life. It affects millions of Americans each year; and while there are numerous causes to each case, one thing is certain: lower back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the Global Burden of Disease. Far too many people turn to harmful painkillers for relief, unaware that there are sufficient, drug-free alternatives. Painkillers merely treat the symptoms — it doesn’t acknowledge the root of the problem. It’s important to recognize how common chronic back pain is in order to raise awareness about feasible, non-invasive and drug-free remedies such as chiropractic.
Back Pain By The Numbers
Most Common Causes of Back Pain
Fitness level: back pain is more common in those that don’t exercise very often. Constant exercise helps to strengthen the core muscles that support the spine. Even going for a walk every day will go a long way in maintaining spinal health.
Rapid weight gain: obesity and sudden weight gain can put a lot of stress on the spine and neck.
Smoking: smoking restricts oxygen flow to the spinal tissue.
Inactive lifestyle: desk jobs with uncomfortable seats or those with poor posture are more susceptible to back pain.
Genetic disorders: arthritis and other genetic disorders can be at play when it comes to back pain.
Bulging or ruptured disks: since these disks are protective cushions for the vertebrae, ruptured or bulging ones can cause nerve pain within the spine.
Improper lifting: always lift with your legs, not your back. Repetitive, strenuous and improper movement will put you at higher risk.
If you suffer from back pain, it could be temporary or it could be a more serious underlying issue. Either way, it's never a good idea to let these things fester and worsen, so schedule a free consultation to be sure. Petrak Family Chiropractic offers many variations of chiropractic care for any situation at any age.
What It Means to Be a Family Chiropractor
As a chiropractor, I often get asked questions about my practice, the conditions I can treat, and to whom the treatments may apply. I always tell people that I am a family chiropractor, meaning...well, exactly what it sounds like: I can treat the whole family. Yes, including the kids. Yes, including infants and yes including seniors. The human body is constantly changing and developing; and having a chiropractor will help to ensure everything is in the right place. Additionally, it strengthens the spine to improve range of motion and balance in order to prevent injuries from occurring later on.
Whether that means helping a young child in development avoid future back and neck pain, disc problems, or sciatica -- or if it means helping an adult get into shape or improve recovery from an injury, as a family chiropractor, I'm ready to meet all of your needs.
Chiropractic Care For Children
Kids experience rapid bone growth throughout the first years of their lives. That's why we give them the apt name 'growth spurts'. And while we may tend to think about kids as being fragile, the fact of the matter is that chiropractic treatment is perfectly safe and even beneficial to toddlers and young children. Kids are like blank slates that are constantly learning and exploring the world around them. In their early years, while they are learning to walk, tripping and tumbling sort of come with the territory. Periodic chiropractic exams will ensure that bones are developing properly and that hard tumbles don't cause any subluxations (spinal misalignments) or nerve stress during development.
Once they get a little older, they might get into sports -- little league, gym classes, ice hockey and peewee football leagues, etc. This is when it's especially important to ensure that everything is in place and unharmed. When it comes to sports, especially full-contact ones, injuries are prevalent. And proper chiropractic care makes injury recovery smoother and even strengthens core muscles to prevent future incidents.
Chiropractic Care For Seniors
As we age, our bodies naturally begin to gradually degrade in terms of mobility and range of motion. Many people loathe the idea of becoming a senior citizen, but as a wise person once said, "do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many." and chiropractic care is one of the most effective ways to make the aging process a bit easier, physically. It offers pain relief, improves balance, range of motion and coordination, and studies have shown that seniors who regularly visit chiropractors have lower rates of arthritis.
It's never too late to seek treatment for an injury, growing pains, or just to check in to make sure everything is in the right place. Chiropractic care is the best non-invasive and drug-free pain relief method. Coupled with massage therapy and at-home stretching/exercise recommendations, family chiropractic visits will help everyone you care about stay healthy. If you're ready to take a step in the right direction to pursue a healthy you, then schedule a consultation. I begin with each patient by doing diagnostics, discussing your health history, and running other tests to develop a treatment plan that best suits your individual needs. Give me a call today!
How To Ease Back Into Working Out
Working out and maintaining strength is critical for reducing back pain and stress. When back and abdominal muscles are weak they cannot support the back properly. Back strengthening exercises help reinforce supportive muscles around the spine that prevent straining and increase range of motion. If you’ve been hibernating all winter (or even longer) here are some tips to get back on the fitness train!
Slow And Steady Wins The Race
The worst thing you can possibly do is jump straight into an advanced workout routine. This is an easy way to cause injury and delay your overall goals even further. Keep it short and sweet — the key is being active on a regular schedule. You don’t need to be a super athlete each day, especially if you're recovering from an injury. Go for a light jog even just twice per week and ramp it up from there over time. Be sure to listen to your body - pain is an indicator that you are pushing yourself too hard.
Warm-Up And Cool-Down: Non-Negotiable
A proper warm-up prepares your body for the increase in activity in a natural and healthy way. Stretching is also a must - it keeps you limber and strengthens the muscles to facilitate healthy recovery and avoid serious injury, especially if you’ve been sedentary for a long time. Check out some of our previous posts on effective stretches.
Just as warming up is important, so is cooling down. You will likely experience DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) on your fitness journey. This is completely normal and warming up/cooling down will help mitigate this from happening.
Don’t Lose Motivation
Set realistic goals for yourself. Start with small, easily attainable goals to keep yourself feeling accomplished and motivated. Motivation can wane if you start to feel discouraged or lazy. Take your gym bag to work and go straight to the gym instead of stopping by home. Make working out a part of your daily routine. The first few weeks will be difficult but once it becomes habit you will enjoy going even more.
Make Sure You’re Good-To-Go Before Starting
Ultimately, your chiropractor is the best resource you have when it comes to injury recovery. When it comes to my patients, I expedite the recovery process and constantly monitor and consult with them to make sure they’re properly prepared to continue the activities they love.
Consult with your chiropractor to find out if you’re ready to get back into a rigorous workout routine, or get in touch today for an initial appointment!
Common Myths About Chiropractic Care
There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding chiropractic care. This is most likely due to ignorance about how chiropractic actually works, the methods that are utilized, and a lack of knowledge about the schooling that chiropractors actually go through in order to be able to practice. Here I'll address some of the 3 most common misconceptions that I hear.
Myth 1: Chiropractors Only Treat Back Pain
This simply isn't true. A chiropractor takes many similar courses to traditional medical students: anatomy, neurology, pathology, and biochemistry. They know more about the human body than just the spine, but through their practice, they acknowledge that significance that spinal strength can play in overall wellbeing. The spine is connected to the nervous system, so if there are pinched nerves or other issues, symptoms can surface elsewhere in the body. Here are just a few common conditions that can be neutralized by comprehensive chiropractic care:
Myth 2: Chiropractors Aren't As Educated As Physicians
As I stated above, not only do chiropractors take similar university courses when compared to traditional medical students, but they also are licensed and qualified graduates to serve as health care providers in the United States and several other countries. Chiropractic school is rigorous and at the completion of the D.C. degree, students must then pass a four-part national board exam to obtain their licenses. From there, chiropractors continue to attend regular seminars on latest research and techniques.
Myth 3: Chiropractic Costs A Lot Of Money
Actually, the majority of health insurance plans will cover chiropractic care expenses. Regardless, in my practice we will sit down with you to go over all of the exact costs, examine your health benefits, and work with your insurance provider regarding the details of your coverage. You will be aware of every cost, at all times and any out-of-pocket cost will be discussed prior to treatment. We want our patients to be completely comfortable, and part of that means complete transparency when it comes to costs.
Easiest Ways To Get Healthy This Year
It's the new year, yet again. That means that new year's resolutions to stay healthy, lose weight, etc are at an all-time high. There's a reason gyms and fitness studios see the most traffic in January. People tell themselves that they want to live healthier lifestyles, which is great, but their motivation and commitment tends to slowly fizzle out during the course of the year. In fact, a study from 2012 showed that nearly 2/3 of American adults make fitness-related new year's resolutions, but 73% of them give up before meeting their goal, many before even 6 weeks' time.
While this sounds disheartening, part of the problem lies in overzealous goal setting, which in turn makes fitness feel unattainable. Realistic goal setting and measuring progress in smaller increments is one of the keys to success. Here are some easy ways to get started on living a healthier lifestyle in 2019 and beyond.
Get A New Morning Routine
Living a healthy lifestyle is exactly that: a lifestyle. It's not starving yourself on a juice cleanse or participating in a fad diet only to return to old habits. It's fundamentally changing how you go about your day -- and it all starts in the morning. Are you the type of person that hits your snooze alarm 4 times before rolling out of bed, showering, dressing and leaving for work at the last minute? Yeah, that's pretty common -- and it needs to stop. One of the best ways to stay on-track with a healthy lifestyle is to start your day correctly.
Set Realistic Exercise Goals
Here lies the problem for the majority of aspiring fitness junkies. They may get a free trial at a gym, go for a week or two, and then become discouraged or intimidated despite enjoying their time. Don't go into it thinking you'll wake up at 4:00AM every day to workout for 2 hours before work. That's not realistic, you probably won't live up to that high bar (in the beginning, at least), and you'll begin to feel discouraged. Here are a few tips to keep things realistic:
Visit A Chiropractor
Regular visits for chiropractic care will help to keep you limber, increase your range of motion, and improve muscle recovery after your workouts. Chiropractic will help to keep you on track in your quest for fitness by helping to avoid injury and by providing supplemental assistance and motivation. Additionally, your chiropractor can give you overall health advice. For instance, one of my specialties is chiropractic for athletes. I make recommendations and perform treatments that are meant to bring athletes to peak physical condition so they can more effectively tackle their workout regimens. I also aid in injury recovery that may occur during extreme physical exertion.
If you're ready to get on the road to a healthier you, give me a call to schedule a consultation. Results may take a while -- the sooner you get started, the better!
Advantages Of Chiropractic In The Winter Months
It’s that time of year again. As the weather gets colder and the snow gently falls, it’s easy to be lulled into tranquility by the peacefulness that comes with winter. Unless, of course, you slip on the ice. An unfortunate byproduct that comes with these freezing Midwestern temperatures is frozen, hazardous patches of ice scattered throughout the streets and sidewalks. The last thing you need as you walk out of your house on your way to work in the morning is to slip and create a surprise snow angel in your driveway. But it still happens. In 2014 alone, there were over 42,000 workplace injuries due to falling on ice. That’s just in the workplace; who knows how many falls happen at home that never get reported or treated.
When you slip and fall (whether on ice or not), your body is susceptible to serious injury. If you experience an unexpected impact without bracing yourself, especially on the spine, it can cause serious subluxations, or misalignments, that lead to pinched nerves, vertebrae dislocation, and/or other issues. Ironically, your first reaction to slipping on ice would probably be to put ice on the injured area. And while that definitely helps with inflammation and may relieve some pain temporarily, it doesn’t help to correct the root of the problem. The spine is connected with the nervous system, so problems within them can cause significant, sometimes debilitating, conditions. I have extensive experience with treating injuries of all kinds. My individualized approach will:
Winter is notorious for causing an increase in accidental fall injuries. Take extra precaution this season by adequately salting your driveway, sidewalk and porch — but most of all, don’t rush. Take your time and watch your step when you’re not on your own property. You can’t always count on others to be as responsible as yourself.
But if you do wind up taking an unexpected winter tumble, schedule a consultation. There could be subtle injuries to your spine that you may not notice now, but will become worse over time. It’s better to be safe than sorry and nip those injuries in the bud before they become serious.