Why Is My Back Crumbling?

Why does our back crunch and why does crunch feel good? When we turn our backs, bend over, or get a massage, we may hear severe cracking, crackling, or murmuring sounds. There are several different views on the way these sounds occur.

Causes of Back Mass

The most widely accepted explanation for back mass is the formation of small gas bubbles in the fluid of the facet joints and their bursting. This mechanism is also used to explain the cracking of the knuckles. Our vertebral bones form joints with each other at the back, called right-left facet joints. The two bones facing each other are covered with a layer of cartilage. The structures forming the joint are surrounded by the joint capsule and there is joint fluid (synovial fluid) within the capsule that facilitates movement, provides lubricity and absorbs the shock force. Bones move as you move; approaching or moving away from each other. Meanwhile, the pressure inside the capsule changes. The pressure increases as the bones come closer together and decreases as they move away. When the pressure increases, the gases dissolved in the joint fluid form bubbles when the pressure decreases. It is thought that during the formation and bursting of the bubbles, sounds such as massing and cracking are produced. These noises and pressure changes caused by gas bubbles are harmless. In general, after a mass, it takes about 20 minutes for the same sound to be heard again (bubbles to form again). Attempting to crunch the joint before this time can be harmful.

Cracking the facet joints can temporarily relieve back and lower back pain. In manual therapy for the facet joints, these massing sounds are usually obtained. As a result, pain and stiffness decrease, spinal movements can return to normal.

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Another explanation for back crunching is when ligaments or tendons rub against each other or against bone. Muscle tension and poor posture can cause tendons and ligaments to rub against bone and soft tissues. If this is the reason, doing regular stretches can reduce back stiffness.

Sound from the back may also be related to spinal calcification . The cartilage tissue that surrounds and protects the articular surfaces of the bones can be worn out and deteriorated due to aging, heavy working conditions, and trauma. Irregularity of the cartilage layer and its loss from place to place increase friction and may cause a feeling of cracking or grinding. If the same sound occurs every time a certain movement is performed, the cause may be cartilage damage.

There may be other reasons for the massing. For example, muscles and ligaments may rub due to mass due to bone or soft tissue tumors.

When to Go to the Doctor?

If your back lump is painful, you may need to see a doctor. Physical therapy and rehabilitation (FTR) branch will be an appropriate choice. A painful joint that constantly cracks and clumps may be a sign of a problem that needs to be treated. There may be cases such as ligament rupture, cartilage damage, capsule rupture, and calcification. Masses that occur after traumas such as traffic accidents and falls should be evaluated in terms of fracture and instability (abnormal movement of bones, joint laxity). You should see an orthopedic doctor for trauma-related problems.

Does Back Mass Require Treatment?

In most cases, the mass is harmless and does not require treatment. However, if there is pain associated with it, treatment may be required. Physical therapy can be applied in calcification, muscle strain, cartilage and ligament damage. Manual therapy, stretching exercises, hot or cold treatments, local injections ( dry needling , prolotherapy, etc.) may be beneficial.

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