With all the regular checkups many take their child to; teeth, ears, eyes, and sports physicals, you don’t often hear of having a child’s spinal health evaluated on a regular basis.
How often have you heard of a child complaining of “throwing their back out” or wince in pain when bending over to pick up a toy. You’ve probably witnessed a fearless child running around with reckless abandon on the playground or in your home, take a hard fall, or crash into a wall only to get right back up and continue playing.
If they do complain of back or neck pain, a trip to their medical doctor may result in a low dose over the counter anti-inflammatory or a recommendation to rest, or physical therapy. However, many parents are choosing to take their children to the chiropractor for not only back and spine-related issues, but other ailments as well.
Chiropractic care is the most common complementary and integrative medicine practice used by children in the United States, and it is used frequently by children internationally as well.1
Chiropractic care does not treat nor cure disease. Chiropractic care helps detect and correct spinal misalignments which improve the body’s ability to heal and function. The central nervous system is the master controller of the body and can be influenced through chiropractic care and spinal adjustments.
Children bump and jar their spine constantly in the first five years of life and after that, their normal everyday activities can cause the vertebrae that protect the spine to lose their normal motion or position.
Each of these spinal traumas cause lasting effects: delicate nerve tissue can be damaged resulting in interference with the brain’s ability to send nerve impulses to organs, tissues and muscles; discs, blood vessels and other soft tissues. Chiropractic care can help locate and correct these problems and restore normal spinal and nervous system function.
“Remove the interference and the body will heal itself,” is a phrase used by chiropractors to help others understand the philosophy behind a spinal adjustment and the healing power of the body. More clinical and researched evidence is starting to enlighten the world that chiropractic care is much more than just a treatment for back and neck pain.
The following paragraphs highlight a few specific conditions that are commonly seen in a chiropractic office.
Latching Issues and Colic
The cause of many newborn health complaints such as colic, reflux, breastfeeding difficulties, sleep disturbances, allergic reactions, and chronic infections can often be traced to nervous system irritation caused by spinal and cranial misalignments. A 2009 JMPT (Miller et al) study showed that out of a case study of 114 babies who were having difficulty breastfeeding, 89 (78 percent) were able to exclusively breast-fed after four chiropractic treatments.2
Clinically, ear infections are one of the most common presenting complaints in children. Fortunately, chiropractic has proven effective in helping with ear infections. Examples include: 2 and 4-year old sisters with chronic ear infections who had received numerous courses of antibiotics over at least two years with no improvement. After adjustments the mother reported that both children were “doing much better” and the children had no more ear infections.3 Other case studies include: a baby boy 6-months-old who was scheduled for ear tubes. His ear infection completely cleared after one adjustment and tubes were never inserted. Also, two girls ages 3 and 4 with chronic ear infections and upper respiratory dysfunction received adjustments and no more ear infections occurred since their first visit. 4
Attitude, Sleep, Immunity
Preliminary results from a study by the ICPA show that chiropractic care is safe for children. Even more significant is that parents reported three unexpected improvements with their child’s care: 1) improved sleep, 2) improved behavior and attitude, and 3) improved immune system function.5
Scoliosis predominantly affects pre-pubescent children during adolescent development of the spine and its proper curvature. As children begin to experience growth spurts, the spine is driven out of alignment via the translation of discs. Because the body is growing at such a rapid pace, these translations become cemented, setting the tone for long-term spinal dysfunction. The good news is that scoliosis is common and well understood. There are numerous treatment options available, including bracing, which serves to correct scoliosis before it can fully set in a developing child. Today, chiropractic is also highly recognized as a non-invasive, corrective approach to scoliosis.6
ADD/ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Anxiety
Clinicians and parents have observed often dramatic improvements in the physical, neurological and emotional health of children following chiropractic spinal care. This includes children with learning disabilities, anxiety, concentration and attention problems, hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder (ADD), dyslexia, discipline problems, low IQ and low grades.7,8,9,10,11
Is Chiropractic care safe?
Chiropractic treats over 35 million (adults and children) in the United States alone. 12 A growing list of research studies and reviews demonstrate that the services provided by chiropractors are clinically effective, safe and cost-effective.
Chiropractic treatments for children are gentle and not aggressive. Treatments may involve a gentle hands-on approach, an adjustment instrument, or a combination. Children respond best when comfortable in the office and with the doctor. Having the parents in the treatment room and active in the child’s care is important.
To keep this article brief, please visit the International Chiropractic Association, International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, and the American Chiropractic Association websites to read the research into the efficacy and effectiveness of chiropractic. Your local chiropractor should be more than willing to sit down with you and address any concerns you may have in regards to care for your child.
When should my child be evaluated?
Have your child’s spine checked by a chiropractor before symptoms present themselves? An complete evaluation, thorough health history, physical exam, and spinal Xrays (only if necessary) are a great place to begin.
Any age can be evaluated. Pediatric trained chiropractors can thoroughly evaluate a newborn infant, especially after concerns of traumatic birth. Having your child’s spine checked by a chiropractor does not mean that they need treatment. But, it is always better to have your child checked at an early age to rule out any physical trauma or damage to the nervous system. Recommended number of visits and frequency vary based on the desired outcome.
Maintaining spinal health should be on your family’s health priority list. Checking in on the system that controls the body is a good thing to do for all ages.
Chiropractic for Kids References
Hochman J. The management of acute otitis media using SOT and SOT craniopathy. Today’s Chiropractic. May/June 2001;41-42.
Hochman J. The management of acute otitis media using SOT and SOT cranial. Sorsi Communicator. 2001;14(2).
Giesen JM, Center DB & Leach RA. An evaluation of chiropractic manipulation as a treatment of hyperactivity in children. JMPT.1989;12:353-363.
Walton EV. Chiropractic effectiveness with emotional, learning and behavioral impairments. ICA Review. 1975;29:2-5,21-22.
Phillips CJ. Case study: the effect of utilizing spinal manipulation and craniosacral therapy as the treatment approach for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Proceedings of the National Conference on Chiropractic and Pediatrics. 1991;57-74.
Gibbons PF, Gosling CM, Holmes M. The short-term effects of cervical manipulation on edge light pupil cycle time: a pilot study.JMPT. 2000;23(7):465-469.
Lewit K. Functional disorders (fixations) of the spine in children. Manuelle Therapie. Leipzig: Barth. 1973 33;50-54.
Gallup-Palmer College of Chiropractic Annual Report: Americans’ Perceptions of Chiropractic. Gallup and Palmer College of Chiropractic. http://bit.ly/2jrr7TG