Disease & Illness

This Man Had A Serious Stroke After Cracking His Neck

Yikes! This is scary.

If you frequently crack your neck, you should know that while it may feel like it’s providing relief from pain or discomfort, it can actually be dangerous. A 28-year-old man recently suffered a serious stroke after cracking his neck. Doctors say the act of cracking his neck tore his vertebral artery, which leads to the brain.

“The moment I heard the pop, everything on my left side started to go numb,” Josh Hader of Guthrie, Oklahoma told KOCO News 5 of the terrifying experience. “I got up and tried to get an ice pack from the fridge, and I remember I couldn’t walk straight.”

Hader’s father-in-law rushed him to Mercy Hospital. The doctors who treated him said the stroke could have been much worse.

ambulance photo
Getty Images | Lauren DeCicca

“He could have formed more clot on that tear and had a life-ending stroke,” Dr. Vance McCollom told the news outlet. “He could have died.”

The type of stroke Hader suffered can also cause “locked in syndrome,” in which patients can hear and understand everything going on around them but are unable to move or communicate.

Luckily, Hader’s symptoms were not that severe, but he did have trouble walking. He also experienced blurred vision and painful hiccups for over a week. He is now recovering but is still having difficulty with everyday activities, like picking up his baby son out of his crib. On March 20, he posted a lighthearted update on his recovery alongside a photo of him wearing an eye patch on Facebook:

Hader’s wife had been asking him to stop cracking his neck, as she feared it could lead to a stroke. His case is unusual, however.

“Every doctor I’ve seen said they’ve never seen a self-manipulation of this type of stroke,” Hader explained to CBS News. “They’ve seen it from chiropractic manipulation or a car wreck. But never someone doing it to themselves.”

Dr. McCollom explained to KOCO that twisting your neck when you pop it is what leads to danger.

“If you want to pop your neck, just kind of pop it side to side,” he advised. “Whenever you twist it there’s a risk of tearing that vessel … I suspect he just turned it real sharp and up, sharp and up and back. That’s what really pinched it.”

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It might seem rare, but Hader isn’t the only one to experience this debilitating phenomenon recently. Londoner Natalie Kunicki, 23, also suffered a stroke recently when her neck cracked.

In these cases, are there physical weaknesses or genetic contributing factors? Doctors don’t know for sure — but we recommend caution when popping your joints, just in case. And remember, May is Stroke Awareness Month, so it’s a good time to review the symptoms and think about what you will do in case someone close to you suffers a stroke.