Chiropractic care for children and infants has been practiced for over one hundred years, but it has gained in popularity during the past decade. More and more parents are looking for drug-free solutions to common problems like colic, nursing difficulties, and chronic ear infections. This article will answer the common questions that parents have about pediatric chiropractic care.
Is It Safe?
This is the question chiropractors hear the most when discussing care for an infant or child. The joints of young children and infants are not as boney as adult joints. They contain more cartilage. The anatomy of people in this age group, therefore, calls for special techniques of spinal manipulation. Every chiropractor has been trained to care for infants and children, some have received additional training, such as a CCP certificate. As long as you are seeing a licensed chiropractor, you are in good hands.
Many parents flinch at the thought of seeing their small child or baby “cracked.” It’s important for parents to know that chiropractic care for this age group looks very different than it does for teens or adults. When working with a young child or infant, your chiropractor will use a very gentle touch and stretching movements; you are unlikely to hear any popping or cracking sounds. If you feel uneasy about the process, ask your chiropractor to walk you through what he or she is going to do.
As far as statistics go, the chance of injury or adverse events from a pediatric chiropractic adjustment is very rare, 1% or lower. One study that looked at 110 years’ worth of pediatric spinal adjustments found only 9 cases of serious adverse events. It is worth noting that the science of chiropractic care and licensing standards have improved in that time, making such events even less likely today. Chiropractors, in general, have the lowest rate of malpractice of any medical profession.
Why Would My Infant Need Chiropractic Care?
Many people think the idea of spinal adjustment for infants is a bit strange. After all, it’s not like your baby is carrying heavy objects or hunching over a desk. Even though infants don’t have these issues, being born can cause some trauma to a baby’s spine, as can intrauterine constraint during pregnancy. In mothers with intrauterine constraint, the baby does not have sufficient room to move around and may end up stuck in one position for an extended period of time. Unsurprisingly, this can cause spinal problems. Infants who experienced this may have a smaller than average range of motion on one side of their body or be unable to turn their head in one direction fully. These sorts of problems can interfere with growth and development if left untreated.
More subtle problems in a baby’s spine can also cause nursing difficulties and irritability or colic. One study that looked at infants under twelve weeks old who were displaying “sub-optimal” breastfeeding behaviors found that 78% of them were able to be exclusively breastfed after receiving four chiropractic treatments. All of the infants involved in the study had previously received care from other medical professionals and had not seen significant improvement.
Another study showed that colicky infants who were treated by chiropractors cried for an average of 1.5 hours less per day than the control group of infants. Spinal adjustment is thought to help the nervous system function more optimally. A healthy nervous system and freely moving joints are important for overall health at any age.
What Can Chiropractors Do For My Older Child?
A chronic ear infection is the most common problem that chiropractors treat in young children. Ear infections reoccur because fluid is getting trapped in the middle ear. This fluid creates a perfect environment for bacterial growth. When a child is treated with antibiotics, it kills the bacteria, but the fluid build-up remains. Often the reason for this fluid build-up is a spasming of the muscles surrounding the eustachian tubes. This spasming closes off the tubes, not allowing the fluid to drain normally. Chiropractic care can stop the spasming and allow fluid to drain.
Chiropractic adjustments in young children can also help with issues like bedwetting, headaches and neck problems, and behavior issues, such as hyperactivity. Keeping your child’s spine and nervous system healthy will encourage healthy development and better overall health and immunity.
In older children, chiropractic care can help with many of the same issues that are addressed in adults. Children often experience sports injuries, muscles strain from heavy backpacks, and neck problems from hunching over their desks at school or looking at their phones or tablets. A chiropractor can safely and effectively treat all of these problems. Regular adjustments throughout childhood can help to keep strain from everyday activity from building up and causing more serious problems like poor posture or neck and back pain.
Children who have conditions like autism, downs syndrome, or ADHD can also benefit from chiropractic care. A spinal adjustment will not cure these conditions, but many parents have noticed an improved quality of life for their child and found that they are calmer after chiropractic treatment.
Choosing a Chiropractor for Your Child
As mentioned above, all chiropractors are trained to work with children and infants. As long as your chiropractor of choice holds a Doctor of Chiropractic degree and is licensed in your state, your child should receive proper care. Don’t be afraid to ask the same questions you would ask any other medical professional, such as how much experience they have with children or what conditions they have treated in the past.
Any good chiropractor should be willing to walk you through the process of treatment for your child and explain why they are doing what they are doing. You should also ask how many sessions your child will need before you can expect to see significant results. Most chiropractors accept insurance, and HSA accounts can be used to pay for chiropractic treatment.