Chiropractic care for kids
Jodi, a first time mum, was at her wits end. Her three month old son had colic, and its impact on their life was devastating. Nobody was getting enough sleep, and she was finding it difficult to connect with her newborn because she was so exhausted. “I hadn’t been prepared for this,” she says. “I felt so sad when I looked at my baby. I wanted nothing more than to feel that rush of love I’d heard about, but I was just so sick and tired all the time.” When a friend suggested she take him to a chiropractor, she was sceptical. “Like most people,” she says, “I had an image in my mind of a chiropractor cracking people’s backs and twisting their necks until they crunched. There was no way I was doing that to my baby!” But after a few more weeks of sleepless nights, she was so desperate that she contacted her friend’s chiropractor and made an appointment. The chiro talked her though it, explaining every movement in detail and Jodi saw firsthand the gentle techniques that chiropractors use when adjusting babies. Best of all, her son’s colic all but disappeared and he started sleeping. Today Jodi says, “I am so grateful to the chiropractor for what they have done for us. We, as a family, are able to enjoy our time together instead of dreading the next colic attack. Now the whole family sees a chiropractor on a regular basis and it has truly changed our lives.”
History of chiropractic
Though some would argue that healers have been performing adjustments for thousands of years, the actual profession of chiropractic dates back to 1895. It was founded by D.D. Palmer, whose first adjustment restored a man’s hearing. He went on to establish the Palmer School & Infirmary of Chiropractic in 1898. Without using drugs, Palmer began to cure many common illnesses in his patients and his practice grew. Originally called ‘hand treatments’ he coined the term chiropractic, which comes from the Greek (‘chiro’ meaning hands; ‘practic’ meaning practice). Though the success of his treatment was obvious, many were sceptical. The medical establishment, in particular, labelled him a ‘charlatan’ and sought to legally prevent him from practicing chiropractic. He was eventually charged with practicing medicine without a licence and sentenced to 105 days in jail. Though he served only 23 days, he did pay a $350 fine. He continued to practice until his death in 1913, at which point his son, B.J. Palmer, took over the role of promoting chiropractic care.
Today, chiropractic is well established as a complimentary or alternative medicine (CAM) in Australia. Some still question its validity and argue that it is not based on evidence, but for many people, its results are undeniable. Chiropractic for children and babies in particular, however, is still an area where many parents might feel unsure. Certainly the outdated image of chiros using high velocity manual adjustments to correct subluxations would be enough to concern most parents. Chiropractic is, however, one of the most powerful ways that you can protect your children’s health.
Do kids need chiropractic care?
Whether to address a particular issue or to protect and promote general wellbeing in babies and children, chiropractic is an important part of their healthcare. Subluxations, which occur when one or more vertebra are misaligned, interrupt the messages that the nervous systems (central, peripheral and autonomic) are trying to send so that the body can care for itself. Subluxations are caused by physical, chemical and mental stress. Some argue that because babies and young children are not exposed to these kinds of stress, they do not need chiropractic. To the contrary, babies and young children are exposed to high levels of stress on a regular basis. Some of the causes of subluxations in babies include birth trauma, fear [of starving, new sights, new sounds, different surroundings], their position during the pregnancy, the mum’s stress levels and, at times, routine tests such as ultrasounds and amniocentesis.” Furthermore, “On average, a child before the age of seven will fall about 2500 times and, before the age of three, will have had three major falls off change tables, out of a cot or down a flight of stairs. It is estimated that 47.9% of children land on their head in the first year of life”.
One only has to observe a young baby learning to crawl or walk to understand just how often they fall. Subluxations incurred during these falls have the potential to drastically alter their wellbeing. These subluxations may affect a baby’s ability to breastfeed successfully and babies with colic, constipation or reflux (three common issues parents are faced with) are often unhappy, they don’t sleep or eat as well and, as a result, their long term health is impacted.
Adjustments use the innate intelligence of the body by releasing energy so that the healing process can begin. Children’s immune function is improved to the extent that children adjusted from birth on a regular basis are far less likely to suffer from ‘normal’ childhood illnesses, both mild (colds and flu) and severe (recurrent ear infections). This in turns means that children treated with chiropractic are far less likely to need antibiotics, the use of which have been shown to significantly lower natural immunity.
For older children, chiropractic is being used to address a variety of behavioural issues, especially ADD/ADHD and autism. Kids dealing with such illnesses may struggle in school, both socially and academically. Then they are adjusted, they feel healthier, they get their energy back and it empowers them. This sense of wellbeing empowers them by giving them a sense of control in their life and has a positive impact on how they cope on a daily basis.
How are babies and young children adjusted?
With babies and very young children, there is no real need for a forceful manual adjustment as their bones are not fully formed. Generally speaking, the amount of pressure you would apply to your eyeball before you experience some discomfort is the amount of pressure a chiropractor will use when adjusting a baby. Other conceptual frameworks, such as BGI (Bio Geometric Integration) teach chiropractors to have such a thorough understanding of their client’s body that they can release subluxations with much less force and much greater effectiveness.
Even when using more traditional methods for adjustment (toggles, activators or manual adjustments) the chiropractor will use far less force than they would with an adult. Ask lots of questions of your practitioner and, if you are uncomfortable with anything they are doing, find someone else.
The gift of health
Good health is one of the most powerful gifts you can give your child. By having your child regularly assessed and adjusted by a chiropractor, you may be able to avoid many of the common illnesses and stresses which cause children’s health to suffer in the long term.
Traditionally, society uses a health model where we look after the nervous system later in life by prescribing drugs, often during episodes of depression or psychosis. By giving our children early support to allow for the innate expression of their health, we are giving them the gift of lifelong wellbeing.
Furthermore, most chiropractors will ask that you help them make the most of their work by adhering to basic principles of good health, such as eating well and exercising, in between adjustments. They are a wealth of information regarding vaccinations, immunity and allergies, committed to helping you and your family make the best choices. Some chiropractors can help you design and implement an overall plan of care for your family, including complementary care from other alternative providers such as naturopaths, nutritionists or acupuncturists. Because they look at the big picture, chiros will help you, the parent, take care of your health too, ensuring that you can lead by example when it comes to being proactive about your wellbeing.
Increased health for all the members of your family is incredibly powerful. Time with our families is often limited these days, but by ensuring that all members, especially the littlest ones, are vital and energetic, we can make the most of that time together and live life to the fullest.