Why Would a Child Need to see a Chiropractor?
Many people are surprised to learn that children need chiropractic care too. Once one understands that Chiropractors evaluate for spinal misalignment and compromise to nervous system function, it's easy to understand why children should be evaluated. Their spine and nervous system are, in some ways, more vulnerable during these early years. In fact, many of the injuries and accidents that cause vertebral subluxation occur in infancy and toddlerhood.
For the next week, observe your child--how many falls off furniture? How many head bumps on the wall or coffee table? How many attempted forward rolls that end up with the head and neck in some stressed position? How many naps or bedtimes sleeping on the tummy? How many sports collisions? How many stressful events? If your child is "typical", chances are there are multiple times when these events occur each week, maybe each day! These are common situations which can be significant enough to cause the Atlas Subluxation Complex.
For some children, the first injury to cause the Atlas Subluxation Complex can occur during the birth process. A long labor, a baby who gets "stuck" (possibly due to mom's imbalanced pelvis), a difficult birth--one with forceps, suction, or a birth practitioner who unknowingly twists the neck or pulls just a bit too hard to "help the baby out". C-section births are especially traumatic to the newborn neck. A newborn's head and neck are delicate and it takes very little trauma to cause damage.
A study done by Abraham Towbin, MD, an expert in pathology, shows that "Spinal cord and brain stem injuries occur often during the process of birth but frequently escape diagnosis."* This often leads to something known as Blocked Atlantal Nerve Syndrome, a primary cause of upper respiratory infections including ear infections and chronic tonsillitis. **
Toddlers and growing children experience repeated injuries that can be significant enough to cause the ASC. There doesn't need to be blood or bruising. And the child can seem to "recover" quickly from the event. Repeated falls while learning to walk, awkward sleeping positions in the car seat or in bed, "monkeys" who like to climb on things and jump (or dive) off things, kids who fall out of trees, friends who run into each other and tumble while playing. The list is endless. We have watched our four active "monkeys" grow through the stages of childhood--we know what kids do!!
When the ASC is present in an infant, toddler, or young child , they will exhibit signs and symptoms that are more functional in nature rather than pain-related. Pain is often the result of years of degeneration, muscle imbalance, and nerve compromise. Kids haven't had the years of degenerative subluxation damage like adults. Children most often present with signs of inappropriate body function:
- projectile vomiting
- recurrent infections (ear, throat, sinus, chest)
- frequent colds and flus
- motor delays
- pale skin
- dark circles under the eyes
- pupils that are not centered equally in both eyes
- bed wetting
- allergies and asthma
- difficulty adapting to new situations
- overly emotional behavior
- resistance to laying on the tummy
- restricted head and neck motion (torticollis)
- feet that turn in or out
- "stiffness" when crawling or walking
Tweens and Teens face the risks of more serious sports injuries and car accidents, and, in some cases, we start to see the effects of chronic subluxation. During this time of physical maturity, hormonal changes, and rapid growth, signs of subluxation may begin to show similarities with adult symptoms. In addition to functional signs noted above, this age group may also exhibit:
- "growing pains"
- muscle stiffness
- pain (neck, back, joint)
- poor posture
- learning difficulties
- numbness and tingling
- frequent use of pain medications
It is important to understand that chiropractic is not a treatment for illness or disease. It's purpose is to remove spinal stress that interferes with the proper functioning of the nervous system. Improper nervous system function can weaken internal organs and organ systems, lower resistance, reduce healing potential and set the stage for illness and disorders of all kinds. When a chiropractor frees the nervous system from spinal stress and vertebral subluxation, the inborn healing power of the body is unleashed: the immune system functions more efficiently, resistance to disease increases, and your child's body functions more efficiently. Your child is able to respond to internal and external environmental stresses such as germs, changes in temperature, humidity, toxins, pollen and all the other stresses s/he comes in contact with more efficiently.
Most parents do everything they can during pregnancy to ensure their baby's health. When baby arrives, many moms breastfeed; parents count wet and dirty diapers, note when milestones are met, read lots of parenting books. More often than not, spinal alignment and nervous system health are overlooked. It is not necessary to wait for symptoms or illness to appear before seeing a Chiropractor. Subtle vertebral misalignment is usually present before body function is compromised to the point of symptoms.
The NUCCA examination for children is essentially the same as it is for adults, with a few modifications based on the child's age and developmental level. Birth events, milestone history, and current health status are gathered, and posture and neurological function are evaluated. Dr. Mike often speaks directly to the children, appropriate for their age, so that they have a fun experience in the office. Most children, even those who "don't like doctors" seem to cooperate and follow directions well once they are engaged in the visit.
Chiropractic care is about giving kids the best foundation for the healthiest start in life. By removing vertebral subluxation and helping their body function optimally, it's possible that many of the "typical" childhood issues can be avoided.
Given the rate at which children grow and the number of possible injuries they may experience, it is vitally important to have a chiropractor take a look at their spine and nervous system periodically through their early years.
Healthy Kids Initiative
The vast majority of parents want the best for their children; they want them to be healthy and live a productive, full life. We are so concerned about the health of children today, and how their daily lifestyle choices can directly impact their current and long-term quality of health, that we created the Healthy Kids Initiative . For more information, please click on the link!
"When my son was about 4 months old, we became concerned that he seemed unable to turn his head to the left. After visiting the pediatrician, he was diagnosed with torticollis. We were referred to physical therapy and a pediatric optholmologist. After two visits to physical therapy, I became very discouraged. It was painful to watch my baby scream as a stranger tried to do stretches on him. In addition, we had two visits to the eye doctor because they thought he could have vision problems causing his torticollis. All of these visits which were showing no results became very stressful for us as we saw how much money we were spending and seeing no improvement with our son. My dear friend Chrislyn suggested I let Dr. Mike take a look at Andrew. I was excited about visiting Dr. Mike because I loved the NUCCA way of approaching chiropractic care. After our very first visit, Andrew was able to turn his head slightly to the left. After about 3 or 4 visits he was able to fully turn his head in all directions. We were so relieved. We have continued our care because we see how crucial nervous system function is and how well the body works when all systems are communicating properly.
After such great success with my son's torticollis, I decided to have Dr. Mike look at my other son. Zachary was showing behavioral issues that seemed a bit extreme. He was very moody, often disobedient, and would have tantrums of anger. He was only 4. We began seeing Dr. Mike and within the first few visits we began to see incredible results in Zachary's behavior He was more calm, his temper was tamer, he wasn't as easily provoked. He became much more thoughtful and patient. We saw a complete reversal in his behavior. I can always tell when it is time for a correction because I will see his behavior take a dive. After his correction, he is back to his sweet self. I am so grateful for NUCCA and Dr. Mike. I think of how often parents go to the pediatrician with these issues and their children get put on medication, which could cause even worse side effects. I have often wondered what would have become of my son had we not discovered NUCCA and Dr. Mike."
R.R., Harrisonburg, VA
*Towbin, A., "Latent Spinal Cord and Brain Stem Injury in Newborn Infants", Develp Med. Child.Neurol, 11:54-68, 1969.
**Gutman, G., "Blocked Atlantal Nerve Syndrome in Infants and Small Children", Manuelle Medizin, 1987.