It is very common for adults to seek chiropractic care for a range of physical issues such as back pain, neck pain, headaches, chronic postural stress, injuries from sports, arthritis and others. Parents may wonder why they should have their child’s spine checked. Just as for adults, kids can also have mechanical imbalances or spinal misalignment that can result in suboptimal function and an irritation to the nervous system. The nervous system is very important as it controls and co-ordinates every system and function in the body. Spinal dysfunction or misalignment can put stress on the developing nervous system. Optimal spinal alignment however, allows for optimal communication, optimal function and optimal healing potential. Spinal misalignments may occur at any point during development from activities of daily living and stresses. Regardless of pain or symptoms, a spinal health check is an excellent way to determine if the body is functioning at its best. A nervous system free of stress allows optimal expression of life.
Where do misalignments come from?
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These can occur for a variety of reasons such as trauma from birth, bumps and falls as one progresses through developmental milestones, postural stress and others. Emotional stress can manifest as tightness in muscles that affects underlying alignment. Physical, chemical and emotional factors can all contribute to misalignment.
What can you expect from a pediatric chiropractic visit?
The first step is a detailed health history from birth until present. This is used to identify stresses to the body and to discuss heath concerns. Next, a physical examination is done to assess spinal health, function and alignment. If any misalignments or imbalances are detected, the chiropractor will recommend a course of chiropractic care. How does a chiropractor treat and infant or child? Primarily this done by specific adjustments aimed to restore optimal spinal mechanics and alignment – which is a manual procedure. Adjustments for the little ones are very different from adults. Pediatric adjustments are very gentle, safe and effective and take into consideration the unique biomechanical properties of the pediatric spine. For an infant, this means only the light touch of 4-6 ounces. Kids enjoy their visits to the chiropractor.
Reasons to have your child’s spine checked:
1) Birth trauma
Birth itself is a traumatic experience not only for the mother but also for the baby, where the baby must twist and rotate in a confined space and there is potential for injury especially to the head and neck. A difficult or painful labour/delivery necessitating multiple interventions (such as episiotomy, forceps, vacuum extractor..) can affect the baby. Congenital torticollis is a condition that can be caused by birth trauma and it responds well to chiropractic and other gentle, manual treatments. Other telltale signs that your child should have a spinal health check are visible head tilt, a misshapen skull that doesn’t balance out within a couple weeks after birth, difficulty with breastfeeding or latching on one side compared to the other (may indicate a problem in the neck) and colicky behaviour (creates stress on nervous system).
2) Developmental milestones
During development, different milestones are met (such as sitting upright, crawling, standing, walking, etc) and during this time the body must adapt to different stressed placed on it due to gravity. There is also a tremendous amount of growth and changes to the body such as development of normal spinal curves. During this time there is also potential for tumbles and falls which can affect underlying spinal alignment.
3) Falls and injuries
Children fall a lot as they grow up! They may fall of change tables, sofas, fall as they learn to walk and fall from sports. These falls can be minor traumas or be painful injuries depending on how bad the fall is how how they land. Regardless of severity, a spinal health assessment is necessary.
In school aged children, backpacks are used – even from a very young age. An overloaded backpack can affect posture and put abnormal stresses through the muscles and joints of the spine. Carrying a backpack improperly will cause asymmetric loading and create imbalances in the developing spine.
5) Postural stress from sitting at a desk or using electronic devices
There is a tendency in most to slump forward, slouch or sit awkwardly. Chronic postural stress will impact the developing spine.
6) Emotional stress
Emotional stress can manifest as muscle tension and misalignment. Chiropractic care helps to balance the body and the nervous system. People often report improved mood, energy and sleep when under chiropractic care.
Children should be screened for scoliosis as this condition usually develops as the spine grows and there is risk for progression. Scoliosis is an abnormal sideways deviation of the spine which should be monitored over time. Some cases of scoliosis benefit from manual therapies and rehab exercises.
8) Other childhood issues
Parents often bring their children for chiropractic visits for all kinds of problems such as ear pain/pressure, fluid in the ear, ear infections, allergies, asthma, colic, digestive disorders and others. Just to clarify, chiropractors do not diagnose of or claim to cure organ problems. It is still important to see the pediatrician for diagnosis of this type of condition. However, kids with these problems often benefit from chiropractic care. A body in balance will function better overall and a nervous system free of interference will allow better communication and healing. The spine protects the nervous system. Better spinal alignment means less interference in the nervous system.
Regardless of pain or symptoms, a spinal health check is an excellent way to determine if the body is functioning at its best. Find a pediatric chiropractor in your area.
Dr. Miron, DC, BSc(Hons) graduated Cum Laude with Clinic Honours from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College. Dr. Miron is the owner of a family chiropractic clinic in North York, Ontario where she cares for patients of all ages. Chiropractic care has many benefits including pain relief, improved flexibility, correction of mechanical problems of the musculoskeletal system and general wellness.