This is a controversial topic among many parents and health professionals. Although both the American Chiropractic Association’s (ACA) Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics and the Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics of the International Chiropractors Association (ICA) endorse childhood chiropractic care, we cannot offer you a full proof recommendation. Instead, the purpose of this article is to help educate you so you can make the best decision for the specific needs of your child.
The Purpose of Chiropractic Care for Children
The purpose of chiropractic care for children under 18 is to improve their spinal health. Regular chiropractic checkups can help monitor spinal development and relieve spinal or nerve stress by detecting and adjusting misalignments in the neck or spine.
The Benefits of Childhood Chiropractic Care
First, it’s important to remember that chiropractic care is not used to treat conditions or diseases. It’s purpose is to help the overall function of the body through aligning the spine and improving nerve system function.
The nerve system controls the respiratory, hormonal, digestive, circulatory and immune systems in the body. An impairment to the nerve system may cause side effects in any of these systems. Chiropractic adjustments restore the nerve system to its proper function, improving overall health.
Chiropractic care may lead to significant improvements in immune system function, sleep, mood, and more.
What Causes Spinal Issues in Children?
The spine is fully developed by the end of pregnancy but may be affected through trauma in the birthing process. Minor subluxations (small spine misalignments) may also occur when a child is learning to lift it’s head, crawl or walk. Neck/spine misalignments may also be caused by regular childhood activity or trauma related to an injury.
How To Recognize Spinal Problems in Children
It can be difficult for parents to properly diagnose spinal conditions in children. Orthopedic specialists are qualified to do so, but you would typically only consult them for serious spinal conditions or injuries. Chiropractors are trained to perform full evaluations of the spine. That’s why regular checkups with a chiropractor may be a beneficial routine for your child.
There are a few warning signs you can watch for as a parent. Common indicators of a spinal problem may include irregular sleeping patterns (only sleeping for 1-2 hours at a time), your child’s head being tilted to one side consistently, limited mobility of the head or neck to either side, or difficulty nursing an infant. Common health ailments in children may also be an indicator of nerve system stress caused by neck/spine issues. Some of these include sore throat, colds, fevers, stomach aches, earaches, headaches, colic, asthma, breathing problems, persistent growing pains, allergic reactions, chronic infections or bed-wetting.
How Are Spinal Adjustments Performed on Children?
Very light adjustments, using only the fingertips. Very little pressure is required to realign a child’s spine. This typically doesn’t hurt, but your child may be frightened by the sudden movement of the adjustment. One adjustment may be enough, or a series of visits may be required. A care plan will be recommended by your chiropractor.
The Argument Against Chiropractic Care for Children
There are individuals who see chiropractic care as unsafe and unnecessary for children. Some challenge a chiropractor’s ability to diagnose and treat health ailments, suggesting that chiropractic care only produces a placebo effect or no benefit at all. There has been research conducted suggesting children under 8-10 years old have immature growth centers, and manipulation of the neck and spine can cause damage to growth plates. Although chiropractic care in children has the potential to injure, very few instances have been reported from neck/spine manipulation.
We hope this article will help you in the decision making process for what care is best for your child. To schedule an appointment or consult with a medical professional, contact Spring Creek Medical today!