A complimentary head and neck massage at your favorite salon or spa center will leave you feeling refreshed after a long tiring day. However, this so-called harmless neck massage can prove fatal for you. Neck fracture and stroke? how risky is it?
Neck cracking, also known as neck popping, is a common phenomenon caused by unnatural movements of the neck. Most people perform the neck plucking ritual after a haircut or a head massage. Professionals usually handle it, but it’s important to be aware that it can damage the ligaments or bones of your neck.
There are three main causes of tearing of the joints, especially the neck:
Arthritis: If a joint is affected by arthritis (cartilage may lose its lubricity). As the surface of the joint becomes rough, it can make a noise when it is moved.
Escaping gas: Our joints contain a fluid that helps tissue and bones move together smoothly. This liquid contains oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen. In your neck, there are paired joints called facet joints that run up and down on each side. Around each facet joint is a capsule that is filled with gas and fluid.
When the joint capsule is stretched, the gas rapidly escapes in the form of bubbles. This release of gas creates a crackling and popping sound. The process is also known as “cavitation” or “boiling“.
Motion: When joints move, it also affects the ligaments and tendons which are the fibers that connect the muscles and bones in the joint. If a tendon moves slightly out of place, it makes a snapping sound when it returns to its original position.
Similarly, when a joint is moved the ligaments can tighten and make a crackling sound. It most often occurs in the ankle or knee.
What are the risks associated with neck manipulation?
Even if professionals handle the neck cracking procedure, there may be several risks associated with neck manipulation. People often go to therapists or chiropractors for neck massages. Neck manipulations performed by these practitioners are known as chiropractic adjustments. Here chiropractors use their hands to apply a sudden controlled force toward the spinal joint. This is done to improve the movement of the spine.
If done very carefully and skillfully, such chiropractic adjustments are not harmful.
However, in rare cases, there may be some risks involved. Some of the major risk factors for professional neck manipulation are:
Damage to a herniated disc or slipped disc is one of the major risks of neck manipulation. If the herniated disc compresses the nerves of the spinal cord, a person may experience pain and numbness in the affected area.
Due to habitual cracking of the neck, the veins get compressed.
Neck manipulation can also lead to dissection of the vertebral artery, which can lead to a certain type of stroke.
Can a sprained neck really cause a stroke?
A crack in the neck can lead to a stroke, although this is rare. Rapid twisting of the neck causes a small dissection in the lining of the internal artery that causes the formation of blood clots. It can dissolve without causing any damage or showing any symptoms.
People with fragile and weak connective tissue due to genetic inheritance are always advised to avoid rupturing the neck, as this can lead to further complications. This damage to the internal artery lining causes blockage of the artery downstream, increasing the tendency for stroke.
What are the immediate symptoms of a neck-cracking stroke?
If a person suffers a stroke after a neck rupture, here are some immediate symptoms that can be noticed:
Neck cracking stroke can paralyze a part of the person’s body. This can be understood by facial expressions, as the person may not be able to open their mouth, have a one-sided smile or have drooping eyes.
problems lifting the limbs
The person may experience problems in lifting their upper limbs. Due to the stroke, they may face difficulty in lifting one arm or both. The person may also experience numbness or weakness in their movement.
slurred or distorted speech
With a stroke, you may also notice slurred or slurred speech in the victim. The person may not be able to communicate properly with others.
Dizziness or loss of consciousness
A sudden stroke can cause a person to become dizzy or fall into a state of partial or temporary blindness. They may also suffer from blinding pain in the neck as well as loss of consciousness.
Confused about whether neck popping is “risky or relief” for you?
Habitual neck poppers may find relief, as they believe professionals do it well.
Although it provides some relief, it is not a good practice to make it a habit. Most chiropractors and therapists suggest that neck splints are not that bad if done safely. But, if done several times a day and too regularly, it can strain your neck and eventually lead to other rare complications.
Suggested Precautions and Possible Treatments for Stroke Due to Neck Popping
As they say, “prevention is better than cure”; Keeping this in mind, one should avoid neck popping on a regular basis – people who like to go for neck snaps feel a kind of pleasure. Most of them believe that the bursting of the neck releases endorphins which make them feel lighter.
However, this should not become a habit, as bruising your neck daily can permanently damage the ligaments and bones of your neck. Delay in treatment of a patient suffering from stroke can lead to life-threatening consequences or even death.
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