We are often asked questions about pediatric chiropractic care. Is it safe? Will it hurt? Does my child really need adjustments? Let’s discuss the concerns about safe, pediatric chiropractic care.
If you were to survey adults about whether children need chiropractic care, you would most likely hear from plenty of well-meaning adults that it isn’t necessary.
This is usually due to misinformation about what the benefits of chiropractic care are, and the often repeated myths about the supposed dangers of chiropractors in general.
There are plenty of questions, opinions, rumors, and lore about chiropractors. Add children to the mix and people can feel confused about what is true and what isn’t.
We want to dispel the most repeated myths about pediatric chiropractic care with facts, not fantasy.
All parents want to know they are providing the best and safest possible care for their children. We are parents ourselves, so we completely understand! The benefits of pediatric chiropractor care are very real and we want to be certain that parents everywhere know about it.
Let’s start with the facts about children and chiropractors.
✓ Children can have serious joint, spine, and developmental disorders at any age, even from birth.
✓ Medical evidence shows that receiving chiropractic care supports healthy joints, flexibility of the spine, and relieves common problems (such as colic) at every age.
✓ Doctors of chiropractic care, through their training and continuing education, can provide excellent and safe care for your children.
Despite the thousands of testimonials and facts, myths and old wives tales don’t die easily.
We want to calm your fears. Below, we talk about the 5 most common myths and give you the true story so you can feel safe about your child’s care.
This statement often comes from a generalized fear and not out of any scientific backing.
Studies, such as the one performed in 2015 and published in JMPT, found that there were ZERO adverse events associated with pediatric chiropractic manipulation.
While the words “doctors care” covers a very broad range of therapies, the same is true of chiropractic care.
When most people speak about chiropractic are, they are referring to chiropractic manipulation therapy or CMT.
The most common type of CMT involves spine manipulation and results in the popping noise that most people think of when they talk about spinal adjustments.
When performed by a trained chiropractor, CMT is a very safe procedure for both adults and children, including infants.
The physiology and anatomy of infants and children change over time and will, therefore, change the way treatments are given.
Adjustments do not hurt. Children sometimes cry because they are frightened by the noise or quick movement that the doctor makes. This is especially true of young children who are afraid of strangers or who have had poor experiences at a pediatrician.
Speaking of pediatrician’s, ask your child’s doctor what they think of chiropractic care. Chances are they will tell you that it is perfectly safe.
Our chiropractors refer patients both young and old, to seek medical advice or to specialists if they feel that their patient needs care that is out of their area of expertise.
This also explodes another myth that “chiropractors are only in it for the money.”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
You certainly wouldn’t play with your 6-month-old the way you play with your 6-year-old, would you? Your pediatrician doesn’t prescribe the same medication for your baby as they would for you. Your chiropractor also will not adjust your child as they do an adult.
The amount of force necessary to adjust a child depends on the size and age of the child. Often, it’s simply a matter of moving the spine or joint back into its proper position.
Children are not miniature adults and won’t be treated as such. Before your child is 6 years old, the spine is not fully hardened. This means it takes only the lightest of pressure to restore proper placement and restore functionality.
This is where extra training and chiropractic experience become valuable.
While you might see a chiropractic doctor sometimes exert a fair amount of effort into massage or adjustments when dealing with adults, children need only the slightest amount of pressure, often no more than 2 foot-pounds, to realign their as yet undeveloped spinal column or joints.
The fact is that chiropractic care for infants and children is a holistic, non-invasive, safe approach that helps minors with common childhood problems.
Being proactive with your children’s overall health and wellbeing can help them reach their greatest potential, both mentally and physically.
This might be one of the biggest myths of all!
Chances are that this illusion started because most adults only being to see a chiropractor when they have back or neck pain or other joint problems.
Since you rarely hear of toddlers or children having these problems, adults have concluded that pediatric chiropractic care isn’t necessary.
Infants, toddlers, and even very young children have a hard time articulating feelings of pain. This is especially true before the age of 3 when language skills are minimal or even non-existent.
Kids get hurt doing everyday things such as playing, running and falling, jumping into or off of things they shouldn’t, and the typical games that children play, not to mention the injuries that happen playing sports! By keeping the spine in alignment, as well as maintaining proper range of movement in the joints, can help children heal faster and feel better sooner!
A trained chiropractor, however, can often see signs that parents might miss. It is not uncommon for doctors to see infants that favor holding their head or turning their head to one side or toddlers who are slow to pull themselves up. These are both good examples of children who can benefit from having pediatric adjustments.
From the moment a child leaves the womb, misalignment of the spine can occur at any time. Needing an adjustment doesn’t mean that your child is abnormal or that there is anything physically “wrong”, it simply means you are taking care of one of the most important parts of your child’s body; their spine and central nervous system.
When you plant a tree in your yard, you stake it so that the trunk grows straight and true. You can apply the same reasoning to the spine of children. It is far easier to adjust and maintain a straight spine than it is to “repair” one 25 years from now.
You can read thousands of testimonials online from parents who understand the benefits of pediatric chiropractic care and seek qualified specialists who can provide proper development in a safe manner.
Many parents believe children need to be a certain age before they can start chiropractic care.
There is no age limit when it comes to reaping the benefits of pediatric chiropractic care.
It’s never too early to have the spine adjusted so that the central nervous system can work at an optimum level. All children, regardless of age or stage of development, will benefit from adjustments.
Infants and children who suffer from colic, irritability, digestive problems, difficulty with breastfeeding or sleep disturbances can benefit from regular chiropractic adjustments.
Many of these problems are rooted in a poorly functioning central nervous system. When a disc is out of alignment, the communication between the brain and body is disrupted, much like a kink in a garden hose.
When the spine is in the proper position, electrical impulses and information can travel freely between the brain and entire body.
Giving your child safe pediatric chiropractic care can help them grow and develop both mentally and physically. Who doesn’t want this for their child, no matter what their age?
While it’s true that you may not have heard about children getting regular chiropractic treatment, it’s actually been around since at least the early 1980’s and possibly before that.
The founder of chiropractic care, D. Palmer, once wrote that it was as important to check an infant’s spine right from birth and continue to inspect it regularly throughout their lifetime.
Dr. Larry Webster was perhaps the first U.S. based doctor to establish a chiropractic care center just for minors back in 1986. He was the founder of the ICPA (International Chiropractic Pediatric Association), which he used to further educate chiropractors about how to treat children.
Pediatric chiropractic care has been proven to be both safe and effective. It can improve the overall wellbeing and happiness of children, not to mention their parents!
Good lifestyle choices, such as healthy eating habits, exercise, and plenty of time playing outdoors, away from screens, combined with proper pediatric and chiropractic care, can give your child the best foundation for healthy development, proper growth, overall good health and joy.
Dr. Brent Wells has been a trusted chiropractor since moving his family from Oregon to Alaska back in 1998 and founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab – B.S. from Univ. of Nevada, Doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College, volunteer for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Foundation, and member of the American Chiropractic Association. As a chiropractor his focus is on family, including his 3 children and wife of 20+ years, his clinics, and ongoing education.