As a chiropractor, you can understandably see that it is rather confusing when someone tells me their “real doctor” doesn’t believe in chiropractic. Well, first, I feel honored that they think I’m a make-believe mythical creature like Santa or a pixie! Second… wait, did you just actually say real doctor? Would you like to pay my student loans? Third, and seriously, chiropractic is truly a mystery to many. You don’t know what you don’t know. My goal is to inform you enough so that you can easily and quickly educate others on your reasoning to add chiropractic to your family’s health regimen, especially when it comes to the babies and kids!
Here are some quick facts to help you quickly recall and be able to support your decision:
1. A developing infant is born with only 1 c-shaped curve. These are in the thoracic spine and sacral region, called kyphotic curves. The adult spine has 4 curves. The other 2 are developed lordotic curves that create the ‘S’ shape of the spine when you look at it from the side. These 2 curves develop through their neck muscles strengthening by lifting their heads, like with tummy time or tummy sleeping. Then, the second is in the lumbar spine when learning to crawl (6-12 months of age), eventually, leading to the full 4 curves. These should have fully developed by the time the child starts to become upright and walking. Get it? Got it? Good!
But what does my chiropractor do for that? Well, the answer is simple. Encouraging comfortable movement and freely moving joints, the baby is able to freely look up, crawl in the correct pattern as there is only 1 correct pattern. There are many super cute adaptations of crawling, like the “bear-crawl” or “butt scoot”. However, for developmental purposes, we want to encourage the one correct crawl. Your chiropractor can also help neurologically if need-be. Meaning sometimes the baby’s brain has trouble integrating the cross-crawl response needed to successfully crawl. This is a neurological reflex that a pediatric chiropractor is trained to assist in reeducating. Abnormal curvatures of the spine can also lead to biomechanical alterations and eventual degeneration in the spine. Abnormal curvatures that chiropractors are trained to assess and screen for are scoliosis, hyper (meaning increased) kyphosis, or lordosis of the spine. Although there isn’t enough research to date to fully support that chiropractic can correct any abnormality, there is plenty to support the prevention of spinal abnormality by providing optimal spinal function and freeing the nervous system from interference by removing subluxations.
2. Chemical and environmental stressors; We cannot understate the amount of chemical and environmental stresses our kids go through from the moment of conception, and in some cases throughout the conception process. With medications, vaccinations, ultrasounds, diet, foods, hormonal supports, IVF, previous losses, parenthood worries, let alone outside factors that commonly occur such as job change, deaths, financial hardships or work change the growing fetus in-utero is already experiencing stress. The birth process is often stressful on the mother, and the newborn taking the initial journey into life as we know it. Whether the birth be vaginal or cesarean, the child has likely undergone some sort of stress from assistance (ptosis, epidurals, vacuum, physical hands extracting the baby from the uterus, lengthy labors, or even speedy labors). There are several signals that your infant needs to be checked such as:
Difficult or painful latch
Bowel movement and urination abnormalities
Eczema or rashing
Head tilting or rotational side preference
Spitting up frequently
Abnormal head shape
Congestion, breathing issues
Fast forward for older kids, that may fall a lot, require a lot of medications, have behavioral changes, delays in nervous system development, postural abnormalities, separation from parental figures, sleeping issues, chronic infections, neck or back pain, headaches, balance and coordination issues, concentration issues. As our children grow, they have new milestones to reach even through their teenage years; such as developing accountability, making friends, or establishing independence. Other stressors like gluten and sugar, drugs (yes, even prescriptions, or OTC’s like children’s Tylenol), vaccines, school pressures, moving, bullying, electronics, food sensitivities, learning to share, and potty training are chemical and environmental stresses. Let your chiropractor align the spine through removing subluxations, allowing for proper sacral movement, giving CSF flow the freedom to provide balance to the sympathetic and parasympathetic responses. This will allow the child to refrain from living in a constant “fight or flight” state.
3. Physical stresses. Yes! They are kids. They will fall, sometime face first. They will bruise and bleed! Thank GOD for the ER right? However, your chiropractor can help with these common physical stresses throughout development:
Extensive time on the back or in car seats on the back
Wearing the baby forward facing
Prolonged technology exposure
Lack of exercise or prolonged sitting
The job of the chiropractor is to put them back together when they haven’t fully broken themselves like Humpty Dumpty. We can physically manipulate the spine in reaction to these physical altercations. This is the area of chiropractic that most people can connect with and understand.
So, in a nut shell, yes, pretty much, your chiropractor has super hero powers! No, joking. But we do have the ability to assist in allowing every child’s body to work at its optimal potential to heal and develop at its own pace and ability. Chiropractic is the perfect co-managing resource for any type of therapy or treatment a child may be going through, and now you can clearly see why! Or rather, WHY NOT!!!