Crunching Sound In The Neck: Causes And Treatments!


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It is a fine morning, birds chirping, everything around looks beautiful and colorful but wait the moment you wake up you hear a crunching sound in the neck. What is it? Have I broken my neck, you cannot help but ponder. However, that might not be the case, or is it? 

In any case, such a circumstance is fear-inducing and all you want is to get to the bottom of it as soon as possible. To help you figure out this, we present this blog where we will be talking extensively about the crunching sound in the neck along with other popping phenomena that might worry you in real life. Read on to know more. 

What is the crunching sound in the neck? 

Cracking Sound In The Neck

Before we get any further into details, let’s just give you a quick overview of what it is. According to researchers, the cracking sound in the neck is courtesy of movements that happen inside the spine. Our spine needs to relieve itself from time to time and that is when it could make the crunching sound in the neck.

 There could be a few possible causes for the problem including,

  • Air bubbles: Our joints and bone system are complicated and often consist of a joint liquid that keeps it lubricated to tolerate sudden movements. Sometimes, the liquid has an air bubble or two that pops up which can lead to the sound.
  • Muscle or ligament move: The crunching sound in your neck could also pop up when you move a ligament or muscle in an improper way degeneration of joints or discs- Sometimes the joints or discs start degenerating away thanks to a disease or most times, age. This can cause a crunching sound in the neck.
  • Subluxation: Our whole bone system is held by the spine and sometimes when it moves, you can expect a crunching sound in the neck.

Why does my neck crunch when I roll my head? What are the causes?

Hearing a crunching sound in your neck can be overwhelming but that doesn’t mean it has to indicate something alarming. However, it could be due to any of the reasons stated below,

  • Muscle tension and tightness: The muscles around the neck can feel like tightening due to stress or repeated movements. When that happens chances are, you might hear a crunching sound in your neck when rolling your head.
  • Facet joint dysfunction: Another reason why it hurts when you roll your neck is the misalignment experienced in the facet joint. It is a complex system that joins the spinal cord with your neck.
  • Herniated disc: This happens when your disc is herniated or swollen it comes out of our whole system of aligned bones. With the odd one standing out chances are it could affect the nerves running along and hence generate a lot of discomfort.
  • Spinal misalignment: There is no reason for it to happen very often but there is a chance that it does happen and can make you uncomfortable when rolling your head.

How can you diagnose neck crepitus? Who are at risk of neck crepitus?

It is a fancy way of talking about the crunching sound in the neck and can find its basis in the release of gas bubbles misalignment of joints, or sudden changes. The mechanism is similar to the crunching of knuckles. So is it something to be worried about?

According to our experts, most of the time it is harmless and could not be a serious problem. However, as you age, it could be why your neck is more often than not. It is to be considered serious when the discomfort is quite evident while moving your neck.

We have also seen changes in people with arthritis, cervical spine injuries, and degenerative disc disease. Usually when that happens, one can experience pain, swelling, or redness. It could be uncomfortable and therefore mandate a proper treatment protocol.

To diagnose the disease, the doctor might look at your medical conditions and also conduct a physical examination.  Moreover, in some cases, detailed tests like blood, CT, or , X-ray might be needed to confirm the condition of the neck.

There are also chances that the doctor suggested individualized tests which can be quite overwhelming tests are personalized and often vary from person to person.

What is the treatment for neck cracking?

Crunching sound in the neck could also be classified as neck cracking. Neck cracking can be attributed to turning or tilting your head to a side and also stretching neck muscles. When that happens, it is only normal that you might feel relieved but without any pain or such. 

Additionally, there is a chance you might potentially hurt yourself during any of these activities. In such cases, prompt treatment and medications could be everything. Consulting a chiropractor would be of essential help.

The crunching sound in the neck simply can be treated at home with a hot compress, ice packs, and, enough rest. Sometimes your posture could be the one posing problems for you and in that scenario, you might want to seek physiotherapy. Doctors also suggest getting an ergonomic chair.

An ergonomic chair might be more helpful than you think. It can give your back the support it often lacks. This could be due to consistently sitting in an unhealthy way and doing monotonous work. You can also relax your muscles a bit by stretching them to reduce the risk of jerking. But what happens when the condition is serious?

Firstly, when the condition is serious people might be suggested to wear neck braces for a long period. Secondly, there is also the chance that surgery is suggested to correct the alignment but that would require a lot of expert care and work.


Neck crepitus or crunching sound in the neck could be consequentialeantil most of the time. However, when it comes to additional symptoms, you should make sure that you consult a doctor in a timely fashion. Correcting the way you sit daily should also be considered fine. How will you change your lifestyle?


Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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