Chronic back pain, have to pop/crack dozens of times a day



  • HI I am new to this Forum and so excited to find this after searching for months for some relief in my mid back thoracic area.  I have tried massages, reiki healing acupunture, mattress topper, exercise, heat etc... It started back in October 2019. I woke up one morning with horrible pain and I have moments of relief with sun, hikes, movement, standing desk but early morning, sleep laying down and evening tends to get worse for me.  I am hoping to find out ways to manage.  OH also I did have x rays and just mild degeneration in my Thoracic area or arthritis.  Currently doing PT and praying to get some relief, again good days and bad days. I especially have pinching in my scapula muscle area only on the left side and only during evening, mornings and laying down.  I have read some of the posts here and finally feel like I have found a place I can vent since I feel like such a downer with friends and family.  I guess you are all dealing with this too in different ways.  Is there any advice I can get on how to manage this?   Also taking a ton of supplements for joint health and trying to control inflammation.  Would appreciate any advise, validation or help. The only thing that relieves me is Advil and I am worrying about ruining my liver so I take it sparingly and suffer with the pain.  Thank you for listening to me ramble. Much appreciate. 

  • Hello everyone I have had the same problem for about 5 years in the middle of my back constantly trying to crack or pop my back. I have recently found some relief doing yoga stretches for your back. Also try sleeping sitting up with a towel rolled in your middle back and one towel rolled slightly smaller- adjust towel to curb of neck. This decompress spine over night and helps you recover.
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  • I have all these symptoms to a T as well. Also my sister. Has anyone done any EDS/connective tissue disease genetic testing?  Has anyone tried Prolotherapy?  This is a tough battle.  

  • Wow it’s crazy how amazing I feel right now that  I am to reading multiple people with something that I’ve been dealing with for years. I think it’s funny that I’m even surprised by this since because well you know? The  Internet. I’m a female, 33  5’4” and 115 pounds- I have always been thin and had the same weight for 15 years Except being pregnant 3 times. Iand have been dealing with the need to crack my back to only barely Alleviate pain-and now it’s extreme and excessive. Behind my right Shoulder blade sits  what began the first twinge of pain about nine years ago. For me I think I can trace it back to when I was pregnant with my first child and then it never really left me. It is now going up my neck quite tightly and down around the top of my shoulders. I can feel it in my right hip. Sometimes my right arm aches and gets colder than my left. I am right hand dominant. I also have not been great at drinking much water my whole life. I was very flexible in high school as I was on the dance team. I am an Omnivore but have been eating a very clean diet for a while. No soda, mostly organic etc. have tried the chiropractor three times a week for six months not much help. I’ve tried deep tissue massage While it felt nice it didn’t help either. I’ve tried dry needling which is felt the best and I’ve tried Rolfing which was also great for temporary 45 mins or so of relief- I did actually cry in my car at how good it felt but it did not last. I now find myself constantly looking for a better stretch. like it’s just out of reach- looking for relief 
  • crackitccrackit Posts: 29
    edited 03/21/2020 - 4:51 PM

    @meoconnell I have been tested and don't have eds, but do have joint hypermobility syndrome, which I believe is the root cause of my thoracic spine problems. 

    Unfortunately my condition is only worsening no matter what I do. Stretching and cracking definitely helps temporarily. 

    I have just started Low Dose Naltrexone and will give an update after some more time. I am also going to try PEA. Both of these are safe potential treatment options for chronic pain. I'm also going to try prolotherapy, as well as high dose pregnenolone.

    I am also now having the same problems in my right hip at the front. 

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  • @crackit (or anyone) -  

    Has anyone looked into psychological trauma as a potential cause?  

    I've had this exact issue for going on 23 years.  I've had several MRIs and xRays over the years which indicate some minor issues but none too alarming to the physicians.  I've tried chiropractors, physical therapy, massage, different pain meds, accupuncture, facet injections,  a Toradol shot and an epidural.  The Toradol shot was amazing but relief only lasted the 1st of the 5 days it was supposed to.  The only was I've found to manage is with a 2hr massage every other week or so but that gets expensive. 

    A little background - I've been an athlete most of my life, until recently.  Primarily contact sports.  I've also been in an accidental or two.  My MRIs and xRays are over a decade apart and are from both before and after my accidents.  There is no difference in the minor issues I mentioned previously... the images are pretty much identical.  


  • I have scoliosis (28 degree curve). When I was 16 I was involved in a wreck and whenever I would twist my back/turn to my right I would sometimes feel a sharp/uncomfortable pain on my lower back - It also never went away since then. But going to the chiropractor regularly for an adjustment was the only thing that worked for me. My doctor also specialized in sports medicine (some chiropractors don't and I highly recommend looking for one who does even if you are not active. They are more hands on with deep tissue massages during the adjustment as well.) Now I will say when I stopped going to my chiropractor, the pain got worse/the sharp pain is more intense and lasts longer. Today I find myself popping my back more throughout the day, every day... versus when I would go to the chiropractor regularly (back then I probably would pop my back once or twice if that in between visits). 

    But if I may be frank, I came across this page in hopes to see if there was another solution. (My childhood Chiropractor no longer takes insurance and when I tried other chiropractors they were not the same or I didn't notice a difference after the adjustment.) I have tried physical therapy and orthopedic doctor, but nothing worked compared to (edit)

    But a few tips for temporary relief is heating up a wet towel in the microwave. This works better than a heating pad. Don't sleep on your stomach.

  • It's strange to be excited that there are more people experiencing the same pain & discomfort that you are. I thank you all for your comments and wish none of us had to resort to an online platform to try to figure out what's wrong with us. 

    I am 30/F with no history of physical issues or injuries. I am anemic with a history of mental health issues for about a decade. Last January I fell down stairs and broke small bones in my wrist and injured my elbow. After everything healed I started going back to yoga (I was never a regular but just every now and again like a fad diet). After the first week it was nice but I noticed instead of feeling better for a long period of time I felt this desire to constantly crack my upper back. It started on the right side behind my shoulder blade, and I thought it was related to my fall (as I fell on my right side). My Xrays only revealed mild scoliosis but I dont know the degree of curvature.

    I am currently constantly pulling, twisting, tugging, and manipulating my body to get the perfect pops and cracks for maybe up to 10 minutes of relief. I barely sleep now, I'm always uncomfortable, massages are great but provide nearly no relief (unless it's an Asian spa where they have a little more aggressive technique than the typical massage envy type of establishment). 

    I end up sore from most massages because I need them to go deeper and harder just so I can have some sense of comfort, but then it never really last . 

    My current areas of discomfort is my neck and upper back and occasionally mid to lower back. I once thought I nearly broke my neck trying to get a crack and ended up in the ER (turns out it was a muscle spasm afterwards) but I suppose I tugged and twisted  too hard . 

    I'm a veteran and healthcare isn't optimal, but describing what I've experienced to my doctors made them look at me as if I'm making things up or that I've lost my mind and couldn't get a referral to see an chiropractor. I just cracked my neck and left shoulder about 9 times just typing this. I've taken up yoga again and just trying to be active and healthy, but also wanting to go a few days without twisting and  pulling myself like pretzel dough - especially during professional meetings with my 

  • I am 28/ M with no pre-existing conditions. From age 17-28 I’ve been going to cardiologists, spine specialists, chiropractors, physical therapists off and on for chest tightness, back tightness and always feeling the need to crack my back. The cracking would temporarily relieve my symptoms for a short period of time. In June 2019 I was diagnosed with upper extremity DVT In my axillary/ subclavian veins. (Paget-Schrotters syndrome)  I didn’t seek out treatment or a diagnosis rather I had superficial veins, a lump under my armpit and was extremely fatigued and had more chest pain than usual. The clot was successfully removed through thrombolysis. A few weeks later I had first rib resection and scalenctomy  and immediately felt the weight lifted off my shoulders (literally). I have since fully recovered and returned to normal activities. The discomfort and pain I felt for 10 years was gone.

    I should have prefaced my post with “I’m not a physician but,” it’s possible some of the upper back/ shoulder/ neck symptoms some of the posters are experiencing could be due to TOS. There are neurogenic, venous, atrial thoracic outlet syndrome. I have seen plenty of athletes with neurogenic TOS have their symptoms go undiagnosed for years since it’s not a common condition. 


    I’m not saying anyone has TOS as there are 1,000’s of other conditions you COULD have but, if it hasn’t been looked at and you’re struggling to find an answer like I was for years  you could ask  your Dr. to take a look and to see if it’s something you have or rule it out. 

  • Hi Everyone,

    I have a lot of the same problems as everybody. I am a 24 year old female and I have had these back problems for as long as I can remember.

    In 2017 I went to a doctor to help me with my pain and they told me to stretch *eye roll*. I feel like I am stretching and cracking my upper back and neck a million times a day.

    A new problem I have developed is I feel like I need to constantly crack my face/jaw now because it is all connected with my neck and upper back. My sister is a nurse and I told her about how I feel like I have a face twitch because I am constantly “cracking” (it’s not really cracking) my face/jaw. Sometimes I even hold my nose and blow like I am popping my ears because it relieves the pain for a quick second. Does anybody else have this problem along with the back/neck pain? 

    Also, I wouldn’t call mine “pain”. I saw someone compare it to “an itch that can’t be scratched” which I feel like this problem is for me because it is a CONSTANT annoyance and uncomfortableness.

    And I take like 4 hours to fall asleep because I am constantly rolling and stretching around in bed, every night.

  • Hi everyone, I have likewise decided to sign up to participate in this thread of people who have the same problem in common the constant need to self adjust and crack to release tension between the shoulder blades. I similar to a lot of you have seen about 10 different specialists and done months and months of stretching and posture exercises prescribed by physios and chiropractors nothing makes it disappear. 

    I am 33, have had this problem for over 10 years and am very active having done many marathons and an ironman. I have bought many special pillows, neck extending hammock etc. Exercise, and stretching help but after a few hours it's back to square one.

    Some people have suggested this in the group, but I think this problem whilst triggered by something physical is basically a phsycological problem. I also have fairly bad OCD and this causes me to respond strongly to discomfort. I crack my wrist as often as I crack my back. My OCD also means that I pick my lips often making them bleed because I am worried my lips are chapped. All these ticks increase when I am stressed or anxious.

    It is nice to find a community of people that understand what I am going through but it is clear that basically nobody has successfully kicked the habit. It leads me to think that this is a severe form of addiction to self manipulation, and the more manipulation is done the more addicted and reliant you get.

    Has anyone tried any psychological therapy for chronic conditions like this or even hypnotherapy? I am starting to look into this now 

  • I relate to so many people on here. I crack my back hundreds of times of day. Just rolling my shoulders back or forward does the trick. Sometimes I lean up against something and stretch back. The pops relieve most of the pain for a VERY SHORT amount of time before it’s time to crack again. 

    It gets worse with the following:

    Laying on my stomach 

    Sitting (makes it a ton worse)

    What makes it better:

    Exercise (surprisingly)

    Stretching (temporarily)



    I’ve been dealing with this since 2011, and I’m 28 years old now. It’s causing me to lose sleep and deal with pain literally every waking moment. I’ve tried PT, dry needling, chiropractors and cryotherapy. All offer a level of relief, but all were temporary. Dry needling was the best. I created an account just to follow this to see if anyone has found a true 

  • Desperate for relief...

  • Hi, so just an update I am on day 4 of not clicking my own back! This is the longest period with no self manipulation for about 10 years!

    After reading through all the comments and my view about this being a psychological problem of physical addiction to self manipulation I have tried to use the COVID lockdown as an opportunity to kick the habit.

    I am trying to do all the things that help to get my back into the best place it can be, and then using willpower to do the rest to get back to normal.

    I am

    Doing yoga twice a day

    Doing 20 mins hard exercise like quick running

    Sleeping on the floor

    Using a pillow specially designed for upper back pain

    Using a laptop raiser that can raise so high that I look up not down

    Using a brace from amazon that pulls my shoulders backwards and using that whilst I work all day

    Using a load of willpower and when I feel I need to crack I take a break from whatever I am doing and do 5 mins of the yoga moves that seem to best ease the pressure

    It is not easy at all, especially when work gets stressful, but I have moments especially after yoga where I feel like a normal person. No pressure between shoulder blades, no need to click... let me tell you, to feel that is amazing.

    I will report back

  • Hi there everyone, 

    So happy this thread is still going so that I can join in too! While I'm relieved to see other people are having the same experience as me, I'm saddened at the fact that no one seems to have found out what it is or a cure.

    I'm pregnant and finding it very hard as this is the most painful it has ever been and I'm limited as to what I am able to do to help with the pain. Normally lying on my back in the floor would give a bit of temporary relief but with being pregnant I can't do that and am very limited as to what pain killers I can take.

  • @Andy86 Good luck with that. Whenever I try to not manipulate /crack, the pain gets worse and muscles spasm and cramp. And my back concaves in. 

    Question: when you're doing yoga, does your back crack?

    Even when I try not to deliberately crack it, it happens anyway, through normal movements, lifting arms, turning head, stretching, lifting etc. 

  • Just an update on my situation:

    I've been taking low dose naltrexone for the chronic pain. I think it has helped a little bit but not as much as I was hoping. Going to increase my dose and also look at adding in PEA for chronic pain. 

    Has anyone tried prolotherapy? 

  • Hi, my name is Bruno, I am 26 years old and suffer from the same issue. 

    I have Joint hypermobility syndrome, and this makes me have to crack my groins, coccyx, low back / back, neck (two different angles,  45º and 90 º). 

    I work on IT and I teach ballroom dance twice a week.

    On normal days I pop approx. 5 times during the whole day (except by neck, ~10).

    On very stressful days, I crack up to 30 times, and this normally gets me on very high fever for a couple of minutes.

    I am still trying to figure out the best way to avoid the cracking, and the best solution I found so far was to learn how to control my heart rate, stress, diet and physical activities.

    Recently I found out that eating pineapple helps on controlling the inflammation of all these areas, so every time I feel a lot of pain, I eat every 3 hours a mix of fruits, where pineapple is 70%. 

    ... and it's been working like a charm, I feel the relief almost immediately.

    Please let me know your comments!

    Stay fine

  • @crackit yes my back and neck does crack a lot when I do yoga, and at times during the day when I move. It is definitely not cured.

    I have been consciously try not to self crack for 1 month now. Day to day it feels better than when I cracked a lot, but I still have times where the tension is so high that if I don't do yoga immediately I would start doing all the movements to make it crack as I did before. Also the same two vertabre are the ones that always crack most during yoga.

    When it is this hard to stop doing it I have been tempted to give up and seek the quick relief of a self adjustment. I still have to stop myself often from doing those same movements. I have mostly been able to stop myself however, as due to Yoga, sleeping on floor with rolled towel between my shoulder blades, my working position looking upwards - all of these things seem to be helping enough for my back not to be in so much pain.

    I do not know how long it will take before my vertebrae start moving as normal again, and for the two hyper mobile vertabre to stop clicking, I think quite a few months...

    Anyway, I will try to keep it up for now as I am feeling more healthy and in less pain than before

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