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Dr Uzair
Dr Uzair, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 6170
Experience:  MBBS, FCPS (R) General Surgery. Years of experience in Emergency Medicine.
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My boyfriend's upper spine constantly is popping or cracking

Customer Question

Hi, my boyfriend's upper spine constantly is popping or cracking in the exact same spot whenever he takes a deep breath and it's painful.
JA: How long have you had the pain? What seems to make the pain better or worse?
Customer: For about 4 years. The pain of the popping is random. Sometimes it doesn't hurt but other times it is a very sharp pain. Nothing seems to help. Over the counter pain medication, heat, ice, massage and typical pain creams only help for so long.
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Doctor should know?
Customer: The left side of his spine where his muscles are between his spine and shoulder blade are tight and very sensitive to touch.
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Doctor about your situation and then connect you two.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr Uzair replied 5 months ago.

Hi and thanks for the query.

This kind of popping is seen in spinal instability and this can be due to laxity of ligaments in general, muscle spasms or degenerative disc disease, this can predispose one to prolapsed discs in the spine as well.

The tightness in the muscles supplied by that area of the spine is due to nerve impingement due to entrapment or herniation of the intervertebral disc. This pop causes the intervertebral disc to pop out of its place and back in again causing the pain. The pain is excruciating since, the disc impinges the nerve when it pops out. OTC pain killers and massage etc can not do much for the sharp pain but can help in more chronic pain due to this.

The best course of action here will be to see his PCP and get this examined, x rays of the cervical and dorsal spine in two views and then a referral to the Neurologist for a more thorough exam and MRI of the spine. The treatment starts from conservative medical management and physiotherapy and core muscle strengthening exercises. Intra vertebral cortison shots are another option. Surgical correction in severe cases.

Let me know if you have other queries about this.

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Regards.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Thank you. Unfortunately he doesn't have medical insurance but when he does, I'll be sure to push him to see a doctor. Also his left shoulder blade sometimes cracks or pops along with it. I'm thinking that's from the muscle spasms or tightness. So just breathing can make him pop in and out?
Expert:  Dr Uzair replied 5 months ago.
that can be due to muscle spasms as well as ligament laxity. But will be confirmed on an exam and an MRI. For muscle spasms he will need a script for a muscle relaxant. The PCP will help you with that.
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Regards.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Also how come this happens when he takes deep breaths? How does that trigger it to pop?
Expert:  Dr Uzair replied 5 months ago.

Taking deep breaths initiates contraction of the intercostal muscles and muscles of the core that take attachment at or around the vertebrae. Deep breath requires the spine to be very stable. Instability can lead to movements due to force vectors acting on the vertebra and induce popping.

Expert:  Dr Uzair replied 5 months ago.

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Regards.