The Grapevine

Can Neck Cracking Lead To Stroke?

Josh Hader, a 28-year-old man from Oklahoma, recently went viral after he revealed what caused his stroke. Both the public and the health community talked about his story as it showed the surprising effect of simply stretching the neck.

Hader is already recovering fast. He has started gaining his mobility back and his vision has improved. But his story continues to circulate online, for it raises awareness on how neck cracking or stretching could either be really harmful, or if it was just a bad day for Hader.

Neck Cracking Effects

Hader is not the first patient to report a link between stroke and neck cracking. Some people experienced a tear of the blood vessel after stretching, which then triggered a stroke, according to WebMD

But it is a rare case, according to Doojin Kim, co-medical director of stroke program at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, Calif. A person needs to apply a strong force or movement to tear a blood vessel.

Genetics potentially is a factor, for it makes blood vessels become more fragile, Kim said. 

''The vertebral arteries run into the bones of the spinal column of the neck… you can potentially end up blocking that artery when you crack your neck," Steven Messe, associate professor of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia, said. 

Messe and other health experts suggested that people should avoid neck cracking. Former president of the American Chiropractic Association Keith Overland, who practices chiropractic in Norwalk, Conn., said making it a habit could weaken the joints or muscles, making it more likely to become painful or strained. 

Professional Neck Manipulation: The Risk

Cervical manipulative therapy (CMT) is another option to stretch your neck. It is provided by chiropractors, osteopaths and physical therapists. 

However, the American Heart Association-American Stroke Association warned in a previous report that CMT can also lead to cervical dissection, a tear in the artery that can cause blood clot and a stroke. The organization recommended that healthcare providers must inform patients of the risk before undergoing neck manipulation.

Overland explained the patients who had a stroke after neck manipulation potentially already have been at risk for stroke. It is better to check a person’s health history and current condition before the therapy. 

Woman Is neck cracking harmful? Health experts warn that it may trigger stroke in some people. Pixabay

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