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jacmil 06-02-2017 05:08 AM

Neck Crunching and Clicking
Hi Everyone!

Looking for some possible insight...

I'm a 37 year old (otherwise healthy) female.

I have been experiencing a VERY noisy neck for the past 3 months. It crackles and snaps during any side to side movement and "clicks" every single time I turn my head left and right.

I had some pain and stiffness initially (3 months ago), but it has since disappeared. I do feel some achiness at the back of my neck from time to time.

I've tried massage, physiotherapy, and acupuncture.

I received a cervical spine x-ray back in March with the following results:

C4-C5 Minimal disc height loss and minimal spondylolisthesis. No cervical degenerative changes. Intervertbral disc heights otherwise preserved.

My doctor didn't seem to think the results were an issue, but my physiotherapist has recommended further imaging, which I will be requesting.

Does anyone have a similar experience? Does "minimal spondylolisthesis" mean "grade 1"? Would this cause the constant clicking noise I've been experiencing?

I know it sounds crazy, but it has really consumed me. I'd love the clicking to stop, but I'm beginning to lose hope.

I'm seeing my doctor today to request an MRI, but thought I'd put it out there in case anyone has some further insight to share.

Thank you!

PS I'm also a little concerned with the spondylolisthesis itself and what this may mean down the road.

teteri66 06-03-2017 09:42 AM

Re: Neck Crunching and Clicking
I usually post on the back board but happened to see your post. What you are referring to is called crepitus, sometimes called crepitation or cavitation. It can occur in any moveable joint in the body. Generally speaking, it is harmless. If it is accompanied by pain, swelling or other concerning symptoms, then the person might want to consult with their physician. Apparently, the cause of the cracking is still under debate. Some possible options are changes related to pressure in the synovial fluid within the joint, ligaments or tendons snapping across bone or bone on bone grinding, which is, of course, more serious!

You don't need to worry about the bone on bone as the X-ray indicates the disc spacing is maintained.

A spondylolisthesis is a situation where one vertebra slips across the top of the adjacent vertebra. It can be something one is born with, or it can occur as the spine ages. "Minimal" would indicate Grade 1 which is from 0-25% slippage. This is not a big deal. People often have a small amount of slippage for decades before it is even noticed. If it continued to progress, it might become a problem as a spinal nerve can get caught up in it, resulting in pain.

It is helpful to know that radiologists use specific terms in signifying "how bad" or "how much" some finding is -- they are: minimal, mild, moderate and severe. When a finding is minimal or mild, doctors tend to ignore it or tell the patient it is nothing to worry about.

I don't believe the spondy would be the cause of the clicking. With the disc space being normal, the bones would not be touching, even if there were moderate slippage.

jacmil 06-05-2017 04:45 AM

Re: Neck Crunching and Clicking
Thank you very much for such an informative response!

Everything you said makes complete sense. I wonder if crepitus or cavitation ever resolves itself. My doctor couldn't hear the noises, but agreed to request an MRI for a closer look. Wish I understood how this all happened in the first place!

Thanks again...really appreciate your insight.

Titchou 06-05-2017 03:25 PM

Re: Neck Crunching and Clicking
Have you considered seeing a chiropractor? My neck and back do this if it's been a long time since an adjustment.

jacmil 06-05-2017 03:44 PM

Re: Neck Crunching and Clicking
Hi! I saw the Chiropractor twice. I had never been before and was super nervous.

She adjusted my neck both times, but I didn't feel like it was the right place if that makes sense? I felt her "crack" along the back and I'm feeling this more in the middle. Confusing, I know!

But you bring up a great point and maybe I should give it another try? Could it take a few adjustments to get it right?

Titchou 06-05-2017 05:22 PM

Re: Neck Crunching and Clicking
It can take several adjustments. The one I go to is also an MD which makes me feel more comfortable knowing he went back to school for that.

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