For many adults, chiropractic care is a source of considerable relief. Because of their specialized treatment of the spine and neck, chiropractic adjustments and therapy routinely help with recovering from injury, maintaining stable back health, and just feeling good in general. However, when it comes to chiropractic treatment for children, for many, the conversation can become a lot less confident. Some might think that children have not sustained the wear and tear that necessitates chiropractic for adults, or that the adjustments and possible manipulation of the vertebrae might be too harsh for a child’s body. As it turns out, chiropractic is readily applicable to children and can yield a variety of benefits. According to the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners, more than 17 percent of all chiropractic patients are under the age of 18. And nearly 8 percent of that subset are five years or younger. If you have been considering the option, consider the following:
What Chiropractic Does
Chiropractic is defined as a system of integrative medicine that is primarily concerned with the diagnosis and direct, manipulative treatment of the joints, particularly those related to the spinal column and nervous system. Not only do children possess a nervous system, but it is in a constant state of flux until adulthood is reached. Studies have suggested that in the first five years of life, the body creates more neural pathways than any other time, comparatively. In the first year alone, a baby’s spine will double in length while assuming the curvatures that will support them the rest of their lives. Our bodies follow a natural blueprint as they grow that tries to ensure optimal health and posture. But during the normal process of growing and interacting with their environment, children can sustain considerable trauma, and improper alignment at this critical juncture can cause the spine to develop incorrectly. Beginning with the rigorous process of birth, any number of bumps, falls, and other external factors can produce slight misalignments in the spine. Even if your child has the appearance of being in excellent health, these misalignments can accumulate and create problems or discomfort that may manifest during their teen or even adult years. Because of the importance of this developmental stage, more people are looking into chiropractic as a means of preventative care that can correct these misalignments and help ensure their children’s growth is optimized.
Problems that Chiropractic May Treat
Because the nervous system is integral to virtually all functions of the body, keeping it healthy has been observed to produce benefits and treatment for specific ailments associated with children.
If you have ever had a baby with colic, you know it can be a painful ordeal. If your child’s gastrointestinal system is not quite developed yet or is underactive, then it can produce gas build-up and indigestion. This condition, generally referred to as colic, leads to bloating and pain in a baby. A chiropractor can gently manipulate the nerves to stimulate the small intestines and help the muscles in your baby’s gut to naturally push the liquid and gas through and out.
Ear infections are some of the most common ailments that can affect young children. Ordinarily, the middle ear in our bodies drains excess fluid via the Eustachian tube, but children and babies are particularly susceptible to blockage of this tube through colds, allergies, or sinus infection. The root causes that lead to the ear infection will likely require medication and antibiotics, and a medical professional will need to be consulted to determine the exact dosages. However, a chiropractor may be able to massage the neck and vertebrae to help dilate the Eustachian tube and drain any fluid unduly trapped in there.
One of the telltale signs of spinal misalignment is if one shoe is wearing out before the other. This pattern commonly emerges well into adulthood, but it has been known to happen in cases involving children. If this, or any other visible asymmetry shows up in the body, a chiropractor may be able to diagnose the issue and come up with a treatment plan to resolve it as well.
Many people are understandably concerned about possible risks associated with performing chiropractic adjustments to children. Studies indicate that in the over 100 years since chiropractic has been recognized as a form of physical therapy, the safety record pertaining to adjusting children’s’ spines has been overwhelmingly positive. Another study conducted by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association in the United States, Canada, and Europe has demonstrated that in a test group of more than 10,000 visits by children, only a few experienced anything approaching minor discomfort. In most cases, the procedure itself will begin with a discussion and assessment of the child’s spine. The chiropractor will then perform a gentle adjustment with either their hands or a small tool. When you consider that chiropractic is generally characterized by a lack of reliance on invasive surgeries or heavy medications, the current evidence suggests it is one of the safer therapy options to consider for children. Based on feedback from the parents of small children and younger patients themselves, chiropractic treatments have yielded reported improvements in sleep habits, general behavior/temperament, and immune system function, as well as relief to ADD/ADHD, torticollis, allergies, asthma, seizures, and a number of other ailments.
In the process of growing, children undergo a massive array of transformations and developments. Their backs and spines are certainly no exception, and how they are treated at this early stage in their lives can have a lasting impact for the rest of their lives. Chiropractic can provide significant guidance to this end. We advise children to observe proper nutrition, assume the correct posture, and hopefully establish habits that will beget healthy living and quality of life. Over the years, we may consult doctors, dentists, coaches, and other therapists, all in a bid to provide our children with the best experience possible. In that same vein, it may be worth considering speaking with a medical professional to determine if chiropractic would be a viable option for your child.