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Spine and Back Health

Crackling noises in base of skull

11/07/2005

Question:

For the past year, I have been hearing crackling or snapping noises when I turn my head to left. These noises appear to be located behind my left ear towards the base of my skull. Occasionally, maybe once or twice a week when I bend my head down towards my chest, I hear a popping noise at the base of my skull or top of my neck. There is no pain and no limitation of movement. I have no history of arthritis or injury. Should this be a concern or is it possibly just a sign of aging..I am 46 years old.

Answer:

There is no research that indicates that cracking without pain is harmful.

If you are concerned about arthritis, visit a physical therapist.  Physical therapists can address any strength and flexibility deficits in your neck that can lead to further wear and tear on your neck.

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Response by:

Tammy S Wadsworth, PT MS OCS Tammy S Wadsworth, PT MS OCS
Sports Medicine Team Member
Clinical Instructor at The School of Allied Medical Professions
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University