View Full Version : popping, cracking noises?

11-25-2011, 04:44 PM
I am almost a year post-op, and I've started to notice more popping and cracking noises in my back. They never hurt, and I don't actually feel anything move, but it can be pretty loud and disturbing. Sometimes it feels almost like my spine is "adjusting" itself, like when you pop your knuckles, though not that powerful.

I tried searching other posts for similar questions, and I found a few where people mentioned it along with other problems, but I couldn't find anywhere where it was explained. Is it just the muscles getting tight and "snapping" over the rods, or is it the discs "adjusting" under the pressure of the fusion?

I don't have any other problems, or pain, and I am not really worried (though sometimes when I have a day when it's more frequent, I do get a little concerned). I recently stopped taking any muscle relaxers at all, and am only using hot showers to relieve the tight muscles...but I wasn't taking the muscle relaxers every day or a very high dose at all. So I'm not sure if that has anything to do with that, or muscles at all.

Anyone have any insight? Thanks!

11-25-2011, 04:50 PM
I think this is one of the great mysteries of life. Over the years, I've heard people mention something like this at least a dozen times, but I've yet to hear a single outcome, so I have no clue what it means.

11-25-2011, 08:16 PM
thanks Linda! is there anything that we should be aware of that is NOT a good sound? the crunching/popping/cracking doesn't hurt, so how would we know if it's bad?

11-26-2011, 07:43 PM
Not hearing your noises, I can't say if it is the same as mine, but I still have my popping, creaking noises that even other people can hear when standing or sitting next to me... It is so strange.
Mine also does not hurt. But I can feel a sort of squeaky "vibration" at times. I can pinpoint it in my lower spine. I especially hear it at night when I roll over or move in bed. (I still log roll to be safe.) They believe that it could be that the lower cross piece may have loosened a bit to the point where it creaks/pops as it moves. It's pretty loud. I have no halos around my bolts in the xrays, so nothing is working loose, and all seems to be good. And because recovery has been so great, we are not pursuing anything at this point. Just keeping track of it. Linda, have you ever heard of this theory???

11-26-2011, 07:48 PM
This is probably not relevant but I'll throw it out there only because Linda said the question is completely open.

My horse's neck started popping and cracking last year and I assumed he was getting arthritis there. I was going to get radiographs and was prepared for injections. My instructor listened and said it was probably not bone-bone but the soft tissue. I think this is correct because when horses do have arthritis in the neck is produces a very subtle NQR aspect of their gait which my horse does not have.

For what it is worth.

11-28-2011, 08:09 AM
Hello Rebecca -

Just wanted to let you know that I have the popping and cracking noises as well. I have pretty much had them since a few months post op and like you they are not painful. Mine are somewhat loud though that I feel like someone beside me can actually hear them. I see Dr Boachie for my 6 month follow up in a few weeks and will ask him if this is a red flag. I figure since it doesn't hurt it is just tight muscles loosening up - kinda like your knuckles or ankles but I guess it doesnt hurt to ask.

11-30-2011, 12:39 PM
Hi there,

Im 13mths post op and I also have popping and cracking noises, they are more in the left hand side of my back, kind of around my shoulder blade area.It was pretty bad when I went for my 1 year check.
Mu surgeon pressed and rotated the shoulder area and said its soft tissue causing it and that I should try to not aggrevate it or use it as a 'party trick'!-I can make it pop when I shrug my shoulder.

A week after my check the cracking and popping went away, now I only get it if I turn onto my sides in bed-its pretty bad when I do that but in general during the day its not so bad now.

11-30-2011, 07:39 PM
I just asked Dr. Hu, who says that she's had patients report it, but it's never amounted to anything.

12-01-2011, 05:04 PM
thanks for all the responses!

Glad to know I am not the only one who sounds like bubble-wrap =)

Yes, mine can be really loud. It is loud enough that my husband can hear it and it scares the crap out of him every time lol.

My question is, why does "soft tissue" sound so loud? Such a weird thing...though as long as it doesn't mean I'm about to implode, I don't care about it. Just was curious as to the cause, and if it was a warning sign that something was going wrong.

I'll be sure to ask my surgeon about it at my next follow up in January (for my 1 year post op!!!!) but all of your responses have eased my mind for now, and I'll wait until then to panic ;)

Okay, just read this and it seems to explain it pretty well, even though it is talking mostly about the knee:

but it seems like it would be the same for us, especially this part:
"Other causes of joint noise is the snapping of tendons or scar tissue over a prominence, or something referred to as cavitation. Cavitation frequently occurs in synovial joints when a small vacuum forms in the synovial fluid and a rapid release produces a sharp popping or cracking sound."

12-02-2011, 06:08 PM
I get them once in a while too. They don't hurt, it just 'sounds' wierd, althought I doubt anyone else can hear it but me :)

I asked at my yearly checkup a few weeks ago, and Dr. N said it's probably muscles moving over the hardware.

03-10-2014, 01:46 PM
I just had a loud cracking sound when I went to sit down on my couch. It hurt and now I'm very soar and uncomfortable in that area. I had X-ray done today and the hardware looks ok. Very weird.

03-10-2014, 10:59 PM
Hope it's nothing, and that the pain gets better soon, but it's still possible you have a broken implant. Sometimes, it's impossible to see an early break without doing flexion and extension xrays.


03-11-2014, 08:24 AM
Hope it's nothing, and that the pain gets better soon, but it's still possible you have a broken implant. Sometimes, it's impossible to see an early break without doing flexion and extension xrays.


Unfortunately I am the poster child for that--two years ago I had "the pop that was heard round the world" along with severe pain, but the x-rays and even a bone scan showed nothing. The pain improved (although did not disappear) but about 3-4 weeks later I bent over to pick up something off the ground and heard/felt both rods snap. That time the x-rays showed two clear breaks, one in each rod. I think in my case the first loud pop was maybe a rod cracking, but everything was still perfectly lined up so the break in the rod wasn't visible.

11-16-2017, 05:40 PM
Here is my experience with cracking sounds in my neck. (FYI, I had surgery for scoliosis in 1964 when I was 15 years old. I had two Herrington rods attached and nine vertebrata fused.) Within the last few years I noticed how tight my shoulder and neck muscles get and that when I moved my neck how I heard cracking sounds. Also, pain in the neck and shoulder area has been getting progressively worse in the last few months. About three months ago I started going to a massage therapist who advertises his specialty as pain management. He has mainly worked on my back, shoulder, and neck muscles and the muscle tightness, pain, and popping has almost disappeared. Also, I was getting head aches and ear aches that I've had for years and they have almost totally disappeared too.