Seeing a Chiropractor for Children: Is It Safe?
As parents, your child’s comfort and safety are your priority. You would also want to get them the best treatment possible, even for the most minor of scratches.
However, with too many myths about the procedure itself and the all-too-common refrain of ‘chiropractic treatment can do more harm than good’—it wouldn’t be surprising if you find yourself at a crossroads whenever the talk about chiropractic care comes up.
We get this reaction a lot from parents as providers of chiropractic care at Elite Spine Centres.
Thus, to get the record straight once and for all and to set your mind at peace, we’re talking about whether seeking a chiropractor for your child is a good idea.
But first, let’s go back to the basics.
What are pediatric chiropractic treatments?
Pediatric chiropractic treatments are simply chiropractic adjustments designed for children, addressing the many musculoskeletal conditions and issues a child’s body goes through as it grows and develops.
Instead of drugs or surgery for injury or pain, pediatric chiropractic care stimulate the body’s innate recuperative power to restore good health.
It can help treat injuries, minimise pain, correct poor posture and misalignments, and address imbalances in bone structure. All these promote a properly functioning nervous system as our spine houses our spinal cord and nerves, protecting them from injury.
When should my child see a chiropractor?
There’s no age requirement for getting chiropractic adjustments.
Children of all ages, including those as young as newborns and infants, can reap the benefits of regular chiropractic care.
As a parent, a gut feeling that something is wrong is helpful to gauge whether an intervention may already be due.
However, there are certain paediatric complications and health conditions that would benefit from an immediate visit from a chiropractor, including:
- Recurring neck or back pains
- Limited head or neck mobility
- Uneven shoulders
- Irregular sleeping patterns
What specific conditions affecting children can be addressed by pediatric chiropractic care?
Chiropractic care has been proven safe and effective treatment for many conditions affecting children of all ages.
Among the many benefits of early chiropractic care for children include:
Fussiness can result from biomechanical stress on the baby’s spine. It causes pain, irritability, physical discomfort, and issues with sleeping.
A chiropractor can work to bring relief to the spine and the nervous system by correcting the misalignments.
The bane of many parents’ existence, colic is thought to be linked to an underactive gastrointestinal system.
Chiropractic care is more effective than drug therapy in relieving the symptoms of certain types of colic, per the Canadian Paediatric Society.
A chiropractor can stimulate the nerve flow to the muscles of the small intestine through gentle chiropractic adjustments.
This may aid the movement of gas and fluid so their body can function correctly.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (Reflux)
Reflux can affect a baby’s ability to feed properly, leading to weight fluctuations.
A chiropractor can work on their nerve interference to relieve pressure on the spine and ease the discomfort.
Torticollis, a condition involving neck muscles that cause the head to tilt down, can make breastfeeding difficult for babies.
A chiropractor can work on stretching their neck muscles to lengthen and strengthen both sides of the neck as well as detect and realign any misalignment to the joint(s) that those muscles attach to.
Breastfeeding and latching difficulties
Trouble with latching, either due to a suck-swallow reflex dysfunction or irritation of the central nervous system, can lead to difficulty in breastfeeding.
A chiropractor can help undo these restrictions in the cranium, jaw, neck, and shoulders and hence help with restoring proper nervous system function and help the body to heal itself and regain the proper suck-swallow reflex.
Inflammation from fluid buildup in the eustachian tubes can lead to ear infections.
These infections can cause excessive pressure in the ear that may then result in pain and discomfort.
A chiropractor may offer relief by draining the ear to decrease the likelihood of future episodes.
As the spinal cord acts as a main relay system for the nervous system, any irritation to the nerve pathways can compromise protection against pathogens and allergens.
A chiropractor can provide spinal manipulation to help promote a stronger immune system.
Risk of injury
A child has several injuries from the minute they are born, ranging from minor and major birth trauma to falls from learning to walk and playing sports to studying for extended amounts of time.
However, most of them won’t be able to express their discomfort at this age or recognize when it has gone beyond what is normal. Often they just get up and get on with it. However, if an injury occurs and goes undetected, problems can surface later in life as an adult.
A chiropractor can identify slight misalignments that may look unproblematic to most people. They can work to minimise the risk of injuries that may arise from these before they get worse.
A baby’s spine may be vulnerable to a wide variety of stress while in utero as well as during birth. These postural imbalances and strains may have an impact on development as your children are growing up.
Early detection and correction of any physical mishaps and/ or developmental lag by a Chiropractor who specialise in pediatric care will help optimising your baby’s nervous system development in reaching important developmental milestones.
A chiropractor can use gentle chiropractic techniques to restore proper spinal and cranial function, remove nerve interference, promote proper growth, and prevent issues from forming.
Is chiropractic care even safe for children?
Yes. Chiropractic therapy is gentle and safe, even for infants and newborns. The pressure used is equal to the force that we would apply when we were to test the ripeness of a tomato or when we were to touch our eyes.
The practice is a well-established alternative medicine, accounting for the third largest group of healthcare professionals in the US, after physicians and dentists.
Chiropractors are also a major part of children’s health care in Canada, where they are among the lineup of healthcare professionals visited by children daily, according to the Canadian Chiropractic Association.
The safety of the practice was tested to the extreme when the Chiropractic Board of Australia temporarily banned spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) for kids under two.
In February 2019, an incident where a chiropractor practising SMT on a visibly distressed newborn’s spine was caught on video.
Following the incident, a separate review of SMT for children under the age of 10 was conducted by the College of Chiropractors of British Columbia (CCBC).
The conclusion was that “the treatment of children with SMT does not present a significant risk to the public.”
While the outcome is reassuring, it is crucial to remember that a huge part of promoting safety is maintaining an open and honest relationship with your child’s chiropractor.
What you need to know before taking your child to a chiropractor
More than controlled clinical trials, the safety and effectiveness of chiropractic care are in the results.
As with any treatment, getting the optimal benefits of chiropractic adjustments depends on several factors.
Working with other medical providers aside from your chiropractor can ensure rational use of the treatment and enable parents to make better-informed choices.
Also, knowing what a chiropractor can and can’t do is helpful in setting your expectations.
One more thing you need to know is that there is more to chiropractic care than spinal manipulation. It is equally important to work on the cranium and the nervous system.
A chiropractor would also advise on useful plays and activities or massages for the parents to do it at home together with their children to help with certain conditions and/ or to improve nerve development.
Chiropractic treatment is proven to be safe and effective for children.
With the right chiropractor, your child can reap the benefits of chiropractic adjustments with little to no risks.
At Elite Spines Centres, patient safety is our top priority.
Every one of our chiropractors is registered and licensed to practice. They are also experienced at working with children, so you can have the peace of mind that they are in safe hands.
We have also made sure that our wide range of treatment options is periodically examined to maintain the quality and effectiveness of our chiropractic care services.
Help your child’s body heal itself and maximise their genetic potential using a drug-free, non-invasive approach. Contact us or give us a visit today!
Dr. Michael Bryant, doctor of chiropractic and member of the Alliance of Chiropractic (AOC) Singapore, graduated summa cum laude from Life University in Atlanta and received several distinctions, as well as completing additional coursework and NBCE certification in physiotherapy. Michael Bryant is the founder of Elite Spine Centers. Read more about Dr. Mike here.