Differentiating Between a Snap and a Pop in a Joint
When you adjust a joint, gases come out of the joint’s liquid from a decrease in pressure, creating bubbles that pop, which facilitates healing. (I talk about these good pops in Chapter 10.) A joint makes a “snap” sound when it moves abnormally.
An easy way to tell if you are experiencing a snap versus a pop is if the sound is repeatable. When a joint pops, it takes at least twenty minutes for the barometric pressure in the joint to build back up and for the stretch to cause a bubble to form and pop again. A snap can be done every time you move the joint abnormally because the tight tendon snaps over the bone every time it moves.
A movement that creates a “pop” feels good. A “snap” movement can (but not always) hurt. In the case of TMD, the pain comes from the irregular pressure on the disc of the jaw, which causes inflammation. If the disc gets used to the irregular pattern, it no longer inflames, so it no longer hurts to snap.
Even if your jaw doesn’t hurt when it snaps, the sound is a sign of jaw dysfunction, and you should look for treatments to help realign your jaw.
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