What is neck crepitus (and what can you do about it)?

Neck crepitus is a condition involving the sound that the tissue in the neck and spinal column makes upon movement. Most people experience this at some point in their lives. When the sounds of neck movement show up without any other symptoms, this is usually nothing to be concerned about. However, when your neck movements cause sounds and other symptoms, like pain, headaches, or discomfort, this may be a reason to consult with a medical professional.

To learn more about the symptoms, causes and treatments associated with neck crepitus, keep reading below.

What are some of the symptoms of neck crepitus?

  • Cracking — One symptom of this condition is hearing and feeling a cracking sensation in your neck. For example, you might suddenly feel a crack in your neck when turning your head a certain way.
  • Popping — Another symptom of this particular neck condition is a popping sensation. You might lift your head to look up at something and feel something pop in your neck. 
  • Grinding — A third symptom of neck crepitus is grinding. This one is a little less common, but not abnormal. If you move your head and feel a grinding in your neck, this is typically just neck crepitus.
  • Snapping — One more symptom of this neck condition is snapping. It is common to feel like your neck snaps ever so slightly when moving your neck a certain way, so if you experience this, it’s usually no cause for concern.

What are some of the causes of neck crepitus?

  • Gas bubbles — One of the most common causes of neck crepitus is gas bubbles that form in your neck joints. When you move, the bubbles are released, making the noise you hear in your neck.
  • Cartilage — When your cartilage ages and becomes thinner and worn out, this may also be behind the sounds you hear coming from your neck.
  • Injury — Old injuries may also be behind the sounds you hear when you turn your head. If you’ve suffered a neck injury in the past, this might be why.
  • Posture — Bad posture can cause a lack of flexibility in the neck and weakened muscles, which may contribute to the noises that come from your neck when moving it. 

What are some of the treatment options for this condition?

Have you been experiencing this condition frequently enough that you want to find some sort of treatment option? Fortunately, there are several options for you. These treatment methods listed below are simple yet effective ways to manage your neck popping.

  • Try out physical therapy — Physical therapy is typically a very effective treatment option for those who have neck crepitus. A physical therapist can guide you through a series of intentionally designed exercises to improve your neck flexibility and muscle strength. It’s a good long-term wellness option that can help you reach your goal of minimizing any neck popping, cracking, grinding or snapping.
  • Improve your posture — Since poor posture is one of those factors that can lead a person to experience neck popping, taking the necessary steps to correct poor posture can be helpful. If you frequently find yourself slouching or hunched over, you’ll benefit from working on improving your posture. You can do so by researching corrective exercises on your own at home or by reaching out to a professional, like a physical therapist.
  • Perform stretching and muscle-building exercises — Another method you may want to try is stretching and performing muscle-building exercises. Although you can research the right exercises yourself, we recommend that you consult with an experienced physical therapist to avoid any injury. The right exercises will help build mobility and increase the range of motion in your neck so that you might experience neck popping a little less. 

Advent PT wants to help you treat your neck crepitus

If you are weary of living with this or another similar condition, we suggest that you visit the experienced physical therapy specialists at Advent Physical Therapy. We partner with our patients to help them build a sustainable health plan with the goal of preventing future pain or discomfort, no matter the condition.

We offer patient-centered physical therapy services. Every patient has a unique set of needs, and we know that their physical therapy plans should reflect that. A free screening can help us determine the right treatment course for your individual needs. 

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.