Back cracking occurs when you move the facet joints along your spine by twisting or stretching your back. It is usually harmless and often releases pressure in your back. However, if your lower back keeps popping, or you are experiencing other symptoms, you may be dealing with something more serious.
At Exchange Physical Therapy Group, our physical therapists in Jersey City, Hoboken & Weehawken, NJ, use the latest techniques plus the professional tools we need to make you feel your best after treatment. We’re here to help you find relief and understand the causes of lower back popping. It’s critical to know when it calls for medical attention to prevent more serious injuries.
What’s Causing My Lower Back to Pop?
No detailed research exists to point to one specific cause when your lower back keeps popping. Most experts theorize that cracking or popping in the back, called crepitus, comes from one of three causes: ligament or tendon repositioning, vertebrae rubbing against each other, or cavitations (gas bubbles) in your spinal joint fluid.
Ligament or Tendon Repositioning
Ligaments, tendons, and cartilage all provide a range of motion by supporting your joints. Popping or cracking sounds might come from strain applied to these structures. For example, a tendon that is out of place pulls tightly across a bone, and when you twist your back, it creates that popping sound as it goes back into place.
The cartilage around your joints wears out from consistent use or simply from aging. Weak cartilage allows your bones to rub together when you move. Bones grinding together cause a crack or popping noise when this occurs.
In between the joints in your body is a liquid called synovial fluid. Synovial fluid also protects your bones from grinding together and eventually developing osteoarthritis, a painful condition. It’s thought that cracking happens when the joint is released and simultaneously releases cavitations stuck in the synovial fluid around the joint.
When to Seek Medical Help
You are likely experiencing more serious facet joint problems if you experience pain or other symptoms when your lower back keeps popping. A joint that consistently pops is a sign of a damaged supportive structure like a ligament, osteoarthritis, or weak synovial fluid.
Sharp, stinging pain means that your joint is probably pinching a nerve. Your lower back also contains structures called facet joint capsules. These are the connective tissues that close each facet joint. They are full of nerves and often contribute to back pain when they become compromised.
If you’re concerned about your back symptoms, seek the cause with your doctor. They will recommend treatment for ailments like osteoarthritis, including physical and other therapies, to relieve these symptoms.
Remedies for Back Popping and Back Pain
There are a few ways to remedy your lower back when it keeps popping or becomes painful when cracking. Physical therapy helps your body keep up with your daily tasks, from something as simple as standing up or walking to a favorite sport or active hobby. Using your back consistently keeps it maintained and allows you to keep enjoying the active things you like to do.
When you don’t use your back enough, it starts to lose its strength and causes back twinges when your muscles spasm. It also puts more stress on your facet joints and could eventually create soft tissue damage.
Professionals treat painful conditions like osteoarthritis based on the individual and include one or a combination of treatments. Steroid injections to relieve pain combined with physical therapy strengthens the muscles in the back to better support the individual.
At Exchange Physical Therapy Group, we get patients feeling their best every day. Our expert physical therapists are here to help you if your lower back keeps popping or you are experiencing back pain. We also provide physical therapy for ACL tears and other injuries.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation at one of our locations in Jersey City, Hoboken & Weehawken, NJ.