Children have been receiving chiropractic care for over a century, but some modern-day parents are still questioning whether it’s safe or effective. While chiropractic has been proven to treat or heal numerous childhood ailments, this natural form of alternative medicine doesn’t always get the respect it deserves. On the other hand, an increasing number of parents are now making appointments with their local chiropractor on behalf of their youngsters.
So, what is chiropractic and how can it help our kids? The answer may surprise you. As it turns out, properly executed chiropractic care is an ideal addition to almost any kid’s healthcare regimen. In fact, it may prevent or reverse certain conditions that would otherwise limit the quality of your child’s life.
This article attempts to explain chiropractic and help parents understand the benefits and drawbacks thereof, allowing them to make a more educated decision about their posterity’s health.
What Is Chiropractic Care?
Chiropractic is a safe and effective form of alternative medicine that utilizes hands-on body manipulation instead of over-the-counter or prescription medications. The average chiropractor’s profession focuses on spinal maladjustments and abnormalities, but well-trained chiropractors can improve function and/or alleviate pain in nearly all parts of the body. By performing massage and musculoskeletal manipulations, chiropractic can coax the body into healing itself.
Properly performed chiropractic has numerous benefits to the spinal column and other parts of the musculoskeletal system. Because licensed chiropractors focus on the spine’s connection to the body’s entire nervous system, adequate chiropractic care restore joint function and support the nervous system without requiring drugs or surgery. While a primary care doctor may specialize in treatment, chiropractic concentrates on prevention and diagnosis, offering fitness coaching and nutritional advice as supportive services.
It’s estimated that nearly 50 million Americans see a chiropractor every year. Although most appointments are made by adults for adults, a significant percentage of chiropractic appointments are for children.
According to the latest reported survey, children accounted for about 11% of the country’s chiropractic calendar. And since many experts advise parents to have their children checks for subluxations at least 6 to 12 times annually, it’s no wonder childhood chiropractic care has become a hot topic.
What Is the Average Chiropractic Appointment Like?
As a parent, you need to realize that all chiropractic appointments are different because all chiropractic patients have unique needs. Usually, however, a chiropractor first will conduct a thorough physical examination and review your child’s medical history before listening to his or her complaints. At that time, the chiropractor will use a series of gentle techniques to locate and adjust the problem areas.
For most children, the initial reaction is one of surprise but not for the reason you might think. Many parents assume that a chiropractor will use the same techniques on children as they do on adults. However, chiropractor care is always tailored to the patient. In general, chiropractic for kids is painless (except, of course, in cases where the child has sustained an injury).
Because children are so fragile, well-trained chiropractors understand that they need to use extremely light fingertip pressure to adjust or correct musculoskeletal misalignments. While such things may not work well on an adult body, it’s typically enough to provide sufficient relief from pain and can even help to restore mobility with regular attempts. Occasionally, the adjustments will make a “pop” sound which might startle an unsuspecting child. However, there is usually no pain involved.
How Long Until Results Can Be Seen?
All children are different, which means that their recovery time and/or response to treatment will vary widely. Fortunately, youngsters tend to respond much faster than adults to chiropractic care because their bodies are less rigid and are still growing. The number of adjustments your child will need depends on numerous factors, including the length of time his or her problem has persisted and the type of diet he or she eats. Apply hot or cold packs between appointments as recommended by your chiropractor.
TIP: Always offer your children bone and muscle supporting foods that are dense in calcium, vitamin D and other essential vitamins and minerals. This is especially important while they’re under chiropractic care, as proper nutrition helps to expedite their recovery time.
Is Chiropractic Safe for Kids?
According to a recent study conducted by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA), only a handful of kids out of every 10,000 ever experienced anything negative during or after chiropractic care. Very few children suffered from minor discomfort and generalized fussiness, but there are usually no adverse side effects. In fact, the benefits vastly outweigh the drawbacks.
The risks of your child suffering from any notable injury after a chiropractic adjustment are extremely small. Chiropractic has been a popular alternative to traditional healthcare for over 100 years, with an excellent safety record along the way. Although studies are still be conducted to determine any potential risks further, chiropractic is currently considered generally safe for most children with very few exceptions (most of which have more to do with the physiology of the patient and less to do with the techniques used for treatment).
Does My Child Have Spinal Problems?
Determining whether your child has spinal problems isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Some of the symptoms are difficult to see, or they have no seeming connection to spinal alignment. It’s important to know the signs so you can get them into a chiropractor as soon as possible.
Children undergo numerous physical stressors as they grow, sometimes resulting in problems with their muscles, tendons, and joints. Unfortunately, problems can occur at any time in their development, from infancy to young adulthood. Knowing the first signs and major symptoms of a spinal problem is the first line of defense against much bigger issues in the future.
Youth spinal problems manifest themselves in curious ways. Nervous system disturbances caused by spinal and/or cranial misalignments are often responsible for many newborn health problems such as:
Sleep cycle disruption
Refusal to breastfeed
In fact, many parents have found relief for colicky babies through gentle chiropractic spinal adjustments. However, it’s important to maintain a proactive approach to your child’s spinal health. Since spinal injuries can occur before, during or after birth, parents should have their baby’s spinal alignment checked or corrected by a trained chiropractor often, especially while the child is achieving major developmental milestones.
As your child grows, be sure to look for the following signs as well because they may be indicative of a serious spinal problem:
Restricted range of motion in the neck
Migraines or recurring headaches
Frequent sore throats
Bedwetting or incontinence
ADD or ADHD
Although most parents seek chiropractic care only if their child gets injured, it makes sense to do so long before there’s ever a problem. Since spinal dysfunction is linked to so many childhood ailments, chiropractic care can enhance the quality of your entire family’s life.
The Top 5 Reasons to Make a Chiropractic Appointment for Your Child
If children are our future, how does the forecast look? Your little seedling will grow into a large oak, but it will only be straight and strong if you take care of it correctly.
So, aside from helping our children recover from an injury, there are at least five good reasons we should be taking them to the chiropractor regularly:
Routine chiropractic checkups are designed to identify potential spinal or musculoskeletal problems before they become unmanageable, thereby enhancing future body function.
Regular chiropractic adjustments help your child develop and grow without avoidable health challenges.
Chiropractic supports the nervous system, which reduces the frequency of the symptoms listed above.
Gentle chiropractic care has been shown to boost a patient’s mood and reduce his or her physical pain significantly.
Chiropractic adjustments and massage can improve your child’s immunities and digestive health, drastically reducing episodes of colic, anxiety or depression.
Responsible execution of chiropractic care can encourage brain development, promote awareness and prevent your youngster from being labeled as something he or she is not.
The Final Verdict
Chiropractic is a safe and effective form of alternative medicine that’s also appropriate for most kids. Proper chiropractic care, along with responsible lifestyle habits and a nutritious diet, serve as the foundation for a healthy and happy childhood. As concerned parents, knowing the pros and cons of chiropractic care is an important step towards providing your kids with everything they need to grow up strong.
Before scheduling an appointment, however, be sure to do the following things:
Educate your child about what they can expect (if possible). Talk to them about their concerns.
See if your insurance will cover the appointment. In many cases, adolescent chiropractic treatments are paid for by the insurance company because they’re considered “preventative” measures.
Understand the possible negative side effects of chiropractic for kids.
AUTHOR BIO: Dr. Wells
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. is a graduate of the University of Nevada and Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Oregon. As the proud founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab, he specializes in rehabilitative therapies which include acupressure, chiropractic massage, adjustments and natural pain relief at his multi-disciplinary clinic.