Samford Chiropractic Centre

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Chiropractic Care For Children - A Parents Guide

Posted by on August 11, 2013 at 9:00 PM

Chiropractors have been treating children's spines for more than a 100 years. Many common childhood ailments will respond to this safe, natural form of health care. More and more parents - especially those who are already chiropractic patients themselves - are seeking chiropractic care for their children.

Here we will attempt to answer some of the questions asked by many parents about their children's spinal health.

What is Chiropractic?

Chiropractic is based on the important relationship between the spine and the nervous system. One of the most basic ideas in chiropractic is that dysfunction in the spine and its joints can lead to dysfunction within the nervous system - and since the nervous system controls and coordinates all of the systems of the body, spinal dysfunction can have wide ranging effects on the body's health.

Chiropractors are trained to evaluate and treat this dysfunction within the spine and other joints. Chiropractors undergo 5 years of fulltime university study in Australia, at either RMIT University in Melbourne or at Macquarie University in Sydney, graduating with double degrees in Chiropractic and clinical science. Chiropractors are well trained in anatomy, physiology, pathology, radiology etc and undergo a similar number of contact hours as an undergraduate medical student.

Why do my kids need chiropractic?

A child has many physical stresses to deal with during their growing years, and problems in children's spines can occur at almost any point in their development and growth.

Probably the earliest challenge a growing spine faces is the position it is forced to adopt in utero. Many women will have heard of foetal positions which can cause problems with the labour (brow, breech, transverse, posterior etc), but what is less well known is that these can also cause problems in the baby's spine as well. Spinal segments can be pushed out of place or jammed by the position of the baby in the womb, and if this position is less than optimal, it can result in a longer and more difficult trip through the birth canal, which can compound these problems. In this way, even natural birthing methods can stress an infant's spine and nervous system - not to mention interventions such as induction, forceps, vonteuse suction or ceasarean section. The latter (which account for an alarmingly large percentage of births in Australia), while seeming to offer a less traumatic birth for the child, can actually create a whole new set of problems.

The cause of many newborn health complaints such as colic, reflux, breastfeeding difficulties, sleep disturbances, allergic reactions and chronic infections can often be traced to irritation to the nervous system caused by these spinal and cranial misalignments.

Since significant spinal trauma can occur at, or prior to birth, many parents elect to have their newborn's spine checked right away. Many developmental milestones such as learning to hold up the head, sitting upright, crawling and walking are all activities that affect spinal alignment and are important times to have a child checked by a chiropractor, not to mention the falls, sports injuries, playground bumps and heavy school bags to which they are subjected in later years.

What does treatment involve?

When we tell people that I we treat a lot of children and babies at our clinic, their initial reaction is often one of amazement as they assume that we use the same techniques on them we do on adults. Chiropractic treatment has to be 'tailored' to the individual and their particular spine, and children are no exception.

The first thing a chiropractor will do is to conduct a thorough history of your child's health and any complaints, which is followed by a complete physical examination of the child's spine. Most chiropractors are trained to evaluate paediatric spinal problems, and will use gentle, specific skills to find and treat any involved spinal areas.

Spinal adjustments for infants and young children involve very light fingertip pressure to correct spinal misalignments. This amount of force is usually sufficient to restore mobility to spinal joints which have become locked and are causing interference to the normal function of the nervous system. We primarily use techniques that involve an instrument called an Activator that delivers a light consistent force to the spinal segment, as well as cranial procedures which gently mobilise the bones of the skull.

Does it hurt?

In general, chiropractic treatment of children is completely painless.

Very young infants can sometimes be startled by the noise of the activator instrument, and may cry for a short time. Most parents report that their children enjoy their spinal adjustments, and that they look forward to their next visit (siblings often fight to see who will go first).

How long will it take?

A child's spine will generally respond much faster than an adults to treatment, and will often require only a few adjustments to restore normal function.

Each individual spinal adjustment may take as little as a few minutes to perform, it is not time consuming.

The actual number of adjustments, however, will vary depending on many factors such as the length of time the problem has been present.

What risks are involved?

The risks of a child suffering injury from a spinal adjustment is almost unheard of, they may (as with adults) have some initial slight discomfort as things change and settle in. Chiropractors have been adjusting children's spines for over a 100 years and have an excellent safety record.

A recent check of some of the largest insurance companies who provide malpractice insurance to chiropractors in the United States has identified that not one claim for injury to a child has been filed within the last five years.

How can I tell if my child has spinal problems?

Unless a child has an obvious symptoms it can be difficult , if not impossible, for a parent to recognise when a child's spine is not working correctly. There are some signs, however, which can indicate spinal problems. These include:

    * disturbed sleeping patterns

    * breastfeeding difficulties in the very young

    * restricted head or neck movement to one side

    * one shoulder higher than the other

Common childhood disorders can also be linked with spinal dysfunction, these include:

    * recurrent ear infections

    * persistent sore throats and colds

    * colic/reflux

    * asthma

    * scoliosis

    * headaches

    * bedwetting and/or constipation

    * growing pains

    * ADHD

It is important to understand that chiropractic is a method of helping the body to function at an optimal level free from nerve system interference not a treatment for named disease.

 One of the most common reasons for parents to seek chiropractic care for their child is prevention and functional optimisation leading to improved HEALTH.

Regular chiropractic checkups can identify potential spinal dysfunction and nerve interference, and help to avoid many of the spinal problems and health complaints seen later as adults.

Categories: Kids, Chiropractic

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