My sister takes her children to see a chiropractor in her town, and recently she has suggested I take my 2-year-old daughter. I don’t understand, my child is too young to have neck pain, why would she need chiropractic care?
Excellent question! I understand your confusion, as some people associate chiropractic care only with neck pain, back pain or headaches, but it is much bigger. Chiropractors don’t treat disease; the purpose of a chiropractic adjustment is to reconnect the brain with the body by reducing nervous system interference (subluxation) and allowing the body to heal itself. This is often achieved by adjusting misalignments of the spinal bones, although many chiropractors address whole body health. Similarly to lawyers, surgeons, physical therapists, or any other profession, there are diverse techniques which chiropractors use to accomplish this goal, however, chiropractors trained in adjusting children know how to ensure that the adjustments given are gentle, safe, and specific to the individual child’s body size and neurological needs.
It is important to note that any component of health could potentially be impacted by altered nervous system function. Recall that the brain orchestrates every function in the body and uses nerves to execute this communication. The spinal cord is a long extension of the brain and doesn’t have any separation from the brain tissue, even on a cellular level, until the nerves travel outside of the spine. The spinal nerves then branch off like roots and carry signals to and from all tissues in the body. What people tend to forget is that nerves are responsible for all of the electrochemical communication, which is more than just pain sensation; they have divisions which communicate every function of every tissue in the body, somewhat similar to a fiber-optic cable. Interference to the communication between these tissues and the brain may alter the way the brain sees the tissue or the feedback the tissue is sending to the brain.
Children fall a lot, especially while they are young! When my cousin’s daughter was first walking, she frequently would take a classic toddler sit/fall, except at times she wouldn’t be able to stand back up and would return to crawling. As soon as she would get an adjustment, however, she would return to walking with ease. Even a seemingly harmless impact may cause a misalignment of less than a millimeter, but as a child grows, it can increase in magnitude and significance. This may be likened to the course of a ship traveling on a long journey; if the captain alters the course even a single degree while leaving the dock, the ship might end up hundreds or thousands of miles from its intended destination, which could have significant implications for the cost of fuel and delays in the delivery of the product it was carrying. This could have a ripple effect down the supply chain and have unexpected consequences for the end consumer. The same could be true for the child’s health.
For example, in an adult, if there is a misalignment of the L5 vertebra, it can create increased tension in the local muscles and ligaments as well as inflammation, interfering with the right S1 nerve. In this case, the individual may experience pain (commonly thought of as “sciatica”), numbness, weakness, or coldness in the right leg, or change in function of the bowels or sexual organs. Of course, because nerves carry multiple functions and symptoms manifest uniquely in different individuals and sometimes in the same individual after time or new injuries. Usually, when we think of nerves, we think of pain, because it prevents us from doing the things we want to do and we can often easily identify the injury which started it. In many cases, however, even a fairly obvious new injury may have started with a mild spinal misalignment in childhood and worsened gradually over time, priming the tissue for the injury in question. I see this often with adults who complain of leaning over to pick up a light object, such as a toothbrush, and “throwing my back out”. Frequently, these individuals have extensive damage to the discs in their lower spine and arthritis that the body has created in reaction to the inflammation and chemical degeneration associated with the damage, followed by an attempt to stabilize the tissue in hopes of preventing future injury. For many, when this is revealed, they are able to recall a significant injury from childhood which may have been related. Unlike in adults, these injuries in children may not show symptoms that may be easily related to the injury, and may not begin to become painful until they are well into adulthood.
Many of the reasons parents have brought their children to me have included difficult birth (c-section, use of forceps or vacuum extraction, prolonged labor), nursing difficulty, colic or excessive crying, allergies, asthma, abnormal crawling, ADHD, bad falls, bedwetting, car accidents, wellness and more. Additionally, preliminary results from a new, significant study by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) have shown that chiropractic care is safe for children and but also had parental reports of children having better sleep, behavior & attitude, and immunity.
Although chiropractic care has been stigmatized for benefitting adults with neck and low back pain, getting children checked for subluxations at a young age is a safe way to help ensure that they have proper communication between their brains and their bodies as they grow.
Since I haven’t examined your child, I can’t speak as to whether she needs chiropractic care, however, I do believe that most people benefit from getting adjusted. The best way to find out if it is right for her would be to have her examined by a chiropractor near you who has been trained in adjusting children gently. You can find this information from the ICPA here. I also recommend that you read the articles
Why Children Should Have Chiropractic Care by Jeanne Ohm, DC: and
New Wellness Care for Children by Scott Darragh, DC, MPH.
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The advice that you are being given is meant to assist with a problem, but since all information about the individual, is not known, it should not be taken as a definitive response. You should consult your personal provider, with specific problems.
The information presented here is one perspective on this issue. Without examining the individual in question, I cannot and am not making a professional recommendation for care. I do not practice medicine and am not providing advice regarding the treatment of disease and this should never be considered medical advice. You should consult with your primary care physician before making any significant health decisions. Any HIPAA protected information has been volunteered by the inquiring individual and neither I nor Macaroni Kid are responsible for the security of this information.
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