Do Osteopaths crack joints?

By |2024-02-14T10:30:32+11:00February 13th, 2024|Maintenance, Osteopathy|

You may have heard that Osteopaths crack joints. Someone you know or have heard about. may have been suffering from pain when they tried to move and saw an osteopath who had helped them feel better and restore their normal mobility. The idea of having your joints cracked may cause you to have second thoughts about whether to see an Osteopath for help. It sounds scary! So, to give you a better understanding of whether and when an Osteopath would crack your joints, I’ll outline the answers to that question.

The short answer is sometimes.

The long answer is, it depends on whether you have had good results in the past and how long ago that was. It’s important to determine if in your situation it is appropriate and safe. Osteopaths generally tend to use an addition range of techniques to address issues with stiff joints. There is often a restriction of movement within the joints because of the muscles that control the range of motion of a joint. To effect change within the joints, Osteopaths frequently address the local and regional muscles tensions, flexibility to implement longer terms changes and improvements in your movements, aches and pains. But, before any treatment happens, it is crucial to diagnose what your situation is and perform special tests to work out if the benefits of one treatment are much greater than any side effects.

When is it okay for an Osteopath to crack your joints.

If you have had a thorough examination and treatment by an AHPRA (Allied Health Professional of Australia Board) professionally government registered practitioner or your medical practitioner and felt that it was benefit in the recent past. It helps to have a clear understanding of your medical and health status.

When it is best practice for an Osteopath to not crack your joints.

  • Bone Thinning
  • Old or new neck fractures
  • Risk of diseased neck arteries
  • Risk of erosion of the joints because of arthritis

If you have issues with bone thinning (AKA osteoporosis or osteopenia): this will usually have been diagnosed by a special X-ray by your doctor, have had falls in the last 8 weeks, sudden loss of height which can indicate a spinal fracture and or cancer. Another issue particularly in relation to neck pain and stiffness is if you are experiencing any dizziness, especially when you look up or turn your head for a short or long period. This can be entering the “Russian Roulette” scenario that many people have heard about and make them very concerned about cracking of the neck. The underlying issue that can make cracking the neck risky is arteriosclerosis affecting the walls of the vertebral artery. This causes the thinning tube within which the blood flows through the neck and up to the brain. It is not the sole supply to the brain, but the issue is if there is a blockage of flow within this artery and cracking the joints suddenly releases the clot, it can flow up to the brain. Another scenario is that the wall of the artery is brittle because of the cholesterol deposits. Brutal cracking can tear the lining of the artery. Thankfully, there are tests both in the clinic and diagnostic imaging to work out if there is a compromise in your neck arteries that determine if it is too high risk to do it.

A different set of diseases that may mean that you shouldn’t crack the joints is some forms of arthritis including rheumatoid arthritis because the joint between the first and second spinal bones can be compromised by weakening of the ligaments that connect them.

This all sounds a bit scary, but when you have a professional Osteopath taking care of you, you’re in good hands. In our clinic there are less risks because we think of, look for and know when it is too risky to crack your joints and instead, have other methods to deal with the situation.

Alternatives to cracking the joints.

It is important to know that Osteopaths have about 8 main technique types.

If there are too many unknowns, clinic tests show that you are at risk, we can provide alternatives. Besides the neck muscle massage techniques there are other less vigorous and less risky options that we use to free the movement in the neck.

Technique 1 Sub-Occipital Rocking of Both sides at the same time

The first technique is called sub-occipital rocking or springing otherwise known as an articulation or low amplitude and force technique that slowly moves the joints at the top of the neck.

Technique 2 Sub-Occipital Rocking on One Side:

rocking or springing otherwise known as an articulation or low amplitude and force technique that slowly moves one of the joints at the top of the neck at a time.

Technique 3 Muscle Energy Technique for one sub-Occipital Joint at a time:

I refer to this as a “contract, relax and stretch movement” (which Osteopaths refer to as a Muscle Energy Technique) where we momentarily trick the small muscles across and around a joint into relaxation and then provide a small movement to stretch the muscle and move the joint.

I have produced videos to demonstrate these techniques. Please look and if you have any questions, let me know.

Treatment Techniques youtube

For more information on neck pain visit:

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From Dizziness and Fainting To Back On The Sports Field

By |2019-08-21T15:10:37+10:00August 21st, 2019|Osteopathy, Sports Injuries|

Have you ever suffered dizziness while playing sport? Well, recently, a patient came in complaining of exactly that. He came in having suffered from unexplained dizziness and fainting that happened at random while they were active on the sports field. It had been affecting them for three or more months and was really worrying for them. Naturally, they had been to see their doctor who had run the full battery of diagnostic tests. Nothing abnormal had been revealed. Their naturopath suggested seeing someone such as myself: an Osteopath.

I was glad that they had been tested medically to rule out anything sinister. It’s the first thing that I think of… My approach was to assess their neck and spinal movements as well as any underlying tensions or abnormalities within the muscles. In this case the patient had experienced a fair amount of rough and tumble landing awkwardly on the sporting field. As a result there was muscle tension and spasm not unlike what someone experiences in a car collision aka whiplash.

After finding this, treatment involved gentle yet deep muscle massage, subtle joint mobilization followed up by tailored stretching exercises to help reinforce the changes created at the clinic. As well as that I emailed links to the videos of the specific exercises.

The patient agreed to a course of treatment over eight weeks. The outcome was that he was able to return to the sporting field with full confidence without further incidence. We wish him all the best for the rest of the season.

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How can Osteopathy help you during Pregnancy and Childbirth?

By |2017-10-27T13:11:21+11:00May 5th, 2017|Osteopathy, Pregnancy|

There are so many changes that come with pregnancy and childbirth. The ones that affect your body come quickly. Sometimes your body has difficulty adapting to that change. Osteopathy helps identify the changes and helps the body cope with those demands. Whether it be the effects of carrying an ever increasing load on your lower back, hips and feet or nursing a baby after birth, there are methods to help the body adapt even better.

Pregnancy is a time when the less unexpected surprises the better. Osteopathic treatment is subtle and gentle. It helps with many of the changes and effects of pregnancy. Some of these you may be aware of:

  • Increasing weight on your lower back with an increased sway this can tighten up the low back muscles
  • A wider stance posture. This can affect this hip muscles.
  • Increase load on your legs coupled with flattening of the arches in the feet can increase tiredness
  • As the baby grows it can demand more space and push upwards making breathing more shallow
  • If there have been older injuries, these may be exacerbated with the changes mentioned above

Treatment to help the body cope with these changes is mostly gentle pressure point massage and gentle rocking and moving techniques. There will be times when you can no longer lie on your back. In which case there are all sorts of other positions that can help make you comfortable.

Having had training in this area during my undergraduate studies and practical experience since 1992, helps me work with clients allowing them to find relief both during and after the life changing process of pregnancy. If I can be of assistance, please get in contact.

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Why you should ask an Osteopath to help reduce your pain

By |2017-10-27T13:04:34+11:00May 31st, 2014|Geoffrey Fong, Osteopathy|

Sometimes you have a pain that has gone on for a little longer than you’d like. You’ve given it your own treatment: RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) stretching etc, but it doesn’t seem to have gone. That’s where an Osteopath can help. There is an element of science and what seems to be magic. Science utilizes the processes of logic. We combine experience and intuition to provide help.

There’s no doubt that you could massage yourself, but it can be a bit like the trick where you pat your head and rub circles on your tummy. The kind of skills you need to play a drum kit. You need to be able to relax the muscle concerned while another set of muscles do the work. Alternatively, you can have an Osteopath do it while you relax.

After an injury or spasm there is a degree of inflammation. This makes the area sore or painful. With time the inflammation often resolves and the pain seems to substantially subside. However, a muscle stiffness for whatever reason can remain. An Osteopath can help to work you through this and take you that extra distance to fully recover from the injury. Sometimes the muscles just don’t seem to release with stretching and that’s where an osteopath can identify and work on those intransigent muscle tensions.

There is a degree to which we are working with prevention. Helping to avoid things progressing and spreading from an initial localized injury site to joints close by i.e. a regional or later global issue. We call these compensatory changes. Sometimes pain is a problem that can become crippling. An Osteopath can help you on your turn around and come back campaign!

Want to know more? Ask how we can help.

Call on 9888 6877 or go to

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Welcome to Geoffrey Fong’s Blog – Why Osteopathy?

By |2017-10-27T12:00:03+11:00October 4th, 2010|Geoffrey Fong, Osteopathy|


After practising Osteopathy for what seems to be a lifetime, well perhaps a generation (18 years) and the maturation of the internet and website development, I bring to you the Geoffrey Fong Osteopathic Services website.

New technology is a very useful tool.

Prior to this I had gradually been implementing the use of email appointment scheduling as a sort of back up for both myself and my patients to curtail transcription errors. It has proved very helpful. Occasionally there can be a hiccup when someone’s iCal switches over to Hawaii time.

My road to Osteopathy may have begun before I was born.

My grandfather had been one of the Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners practising in Melbourne and country Victoria in the early 1900s. The philosophy and influences were passed down via osmosis.  I am a curious person and like to know how and why things happen. Mechanisms including that of the human body are fascinating.

When things are running smoothly, poetry in motion is a wonder to behold. When things are thrown out of kilter, it is time for the mechanic to have a look. In terms of the human body, the reason may not be clear, but clues come in many forms.

My journey as an Osteopath has its roots in my study of ergonomics during a Bachelor of mechanical engineering course.

One of the facets of Osteopathy that drew me to the field was the ability to look at a person’s posture and movements and to be able to tell what sort of injury the person was suffering. (In some cases, the person may have felt things were not quite right, only to be queried as to whether there was really anything wrong at all.)

It seemed like magic: a blend of science and art.

In 1987 I enrolled in the 5 year BAppSci  program at what was Phillip Institute of Technology, later to become RMIT University.  It was one of the first time’s that such a course would be conducted at a government institution. Things had begun to change for the Osteopathic profession.

At the beginning of a course, 5 years seems like a long time, but in no time at all we were half way and before we knew it, it was over.

At the beginning, a graduate pines for experience.

In a blink, I had progressed 5, 10 , 15 years down the road. I travelled to the USA to visit the places where Osteopathy began and thrives today; Kirksville Missouri and other Universities, hospital and clinics. It was fascinating.

Later, I was fortunate enough to work in the clinic of the British School of Osteopathy in London and then in Hong Kong .

After my travels, I returned to my favourite, beautiful home town, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

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