Most people recognize the value of chiropractic care for adults, but a normal working nervous system can help everyone. Chiropractic care for infants and children is very different from that for adults. Tailored to their age and weight, their adjustments often require no more pressure than you’d use to test the ripeness of a tomato. Assessing and treating children is a much different experience than one of an adult and involves very safe, gentle techniques.
There are many factors involved with a growing baby but it’s important to take into account the trauma of the birth process. The birth process can involve pulling, forcing and twisting a baby from the birth canal and can cause stress to the baby’s cranium, spine and nervous system.
Without the language to explain what’s wrong, some newborns exhibit unexplained crying, colic, a lack of appetite, or other difficulties. Newborns and infants can also often show a tendency to hold their head to one side, or prefer breast-feeding from only one side. These are ways they cope with abnormal spinal function and an impaired nervous system. Chiropractors are aware of these tendencies and are able to assess and treat these areas of dysfunction.
It is common for children to receive chiropractic care. Furthermore, this care is safe. The ICPA presented preliminary results of their survey, listing three improvements after care noted by both doctors and parents:
- Improved sleep
- Attitudes and behavior
- Immune system function
When to Get a Checkup
There are various stages in development when rapid changes and additional stresses occur to the child’s spine and nervous system. These stages are ideal benchmarks to getting your child checked out. They are as follows:
Stage I: Within 48 hours of the birth process
Stage II: The 2 month exam – child is lifting head up
Stage III: The 6 month exam – child is sitting on his/her own
Stage IV: The 8 month exam – child is crawling
Stage V: The 11 month exam – child is starting to walk
It is also recommended to bring your child in to get assessed if they undergo any kind of trauma or accident. Regular adjustments can help kids heal quickly and can prevent issues from developing in the future.
As children grow and explore their world, crawling leads to walking. Walking leads to running. Tricycles lead to bicycles. Before we know it, their mobility and curiosity produce a whirlwind of nonstop activity. Along the way they lose their balance. They fall. They slip. They trip. They stumble. They tumble.
These falls are a normal part of childhood, and are necessary to make developmental milestones. Unfortunately however, sometimes these stumbles and falls accumulate and can create some serious problems. Beyond the bumps and the bruises, potential spinal and cranial dysfunctions can occur. Chiropractic adjustments can help with these.
Regular chiropractic checkups during this time of rapid growth are essential. A bad fall is usually quite evident but when all the small falls add up, it’s hard to tell if kids are having problems. Toddlers in particular find it difficult to communicate their discomfort, and without them verbalizing their pain, issues can often be overlooked. Chiropractors are trained to detect these spinal and cranial dysfunctions. The treatment of children is different than the treatment of adults. Very gentle, safe techniques are used, and methods vary dependent on the size and age of the child.
Another stage of development that is marked with rapid growth and new experiences is puberty. With puberty comes hormonal changes, a new self-consciousness, awkwardness and a lack of coordination. A host of nonspecific aches, pains and muscle spasms often appear. These so-called “growing pains” may be common, but they are not normal. The fact that they seem to resolve on their own is merely a tribute to the adaptive qualities of children’s growing bodies. Uneven leg length, unbalanced hips and other underlying spinal distortions often go unnoticed, and unfortunately untreated. Throughout time, these problems become less adaptable and tend to create more stubborn conditions.
This trend tends to be even more exaggerated in kids that have experienced trauma and with athletes that have undergone some kind of injury. Whether that involves a car accident, to a particularly nasty tumble off the bicycle to a bad ankle sprain or even a concussion, the residual effects can be long lasting. We see the results years later in adults with chronic, expensive and hard-to-correct problems. An assessment and subsequent treatment by a chiropractor can help assure proper growth and development, from an early age.
Whether it be from a significant trampoline accident or just regular maintenance to help with the day to day, getting kids of any age in to see a chiropractor for an adjustment can help with current issues and prevent future ones from occurring.
Dr. Marlee Lameris, BSc., D.C.
International Chiropractic Pediatric Association. http://icpa4kids.org/