In keeping with the theme of addressing “chiropractic myths” I think it is important to address a common myth relating to family practice – “chiropractic care is dangerous for kids.”
As a NeuroStructural chiropractor, I believe that early detection is key for mitigating the damaging long-term effects related to structural imbalances in the body. Very often the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a good rule of thumb when it comes to health-related issues, and preventative dental care and routine check-ups with the pediatrician are customary practice for this very reason. However, when it comes to “spinal hygiene” many kids are lacking the support required to maintain their spine in optimal health as they grow and develop. I find that most often this deficiency in the pediatric healthcare team is rooted in fear rather than truth, and that with the proper information conscientious parents can make a well-informed decision regarding chiropractic care for kids.
Underlying the myth that “chiropractic care is unsafe for kids” are several assumptions that I’d like to address as we uncover this myth.
Assumption #1: Chiropractic care is only appropriate for managing neck pain, low back pain, headaches, and other ailments of the musculoskeletal system. Since kids don’t often have these aches and pains, chiropractic care is inappropriate for them.
Aches and pains in the body, and certainly of the spine, are secondary conditions (a.k.a. symptoms) that alert us to the fact that something is functioning abnormally. Conventional chiropractic care is effective for many folks in managing these secondary conditions, and falls under the umbrella of “temporary symptom relief.” As the term secondary conditions implies, there is very often an underlying primary problem that is producing these sensations or experiences that often motivate folks to seek chiropractic care. NeuroStructural chiropractors look at the spine as a functional unit with the understanding that structural instability will irritate and damage tissues including spinal discs and joints, as well as the muscles and ligaments that act on and support the spine. This irritation eventually leads to the onset of secondary conditions if the spinal instability is left uncorrected. This process in NOT age-related, meaning that it can occur at any stage of life. As children grow and develop they encounter many traumas, falls, bumps and bruises. Any one (or more often a combination) of these minor injuries can produce a structural shift in the spine, compromising its stability. Any reasonable person would appreciate the ability to detect these issues early on so that they can be efficiently corrected.
Assumption #2: Chiropractic adjustments are performed on kids the same way they are performed on adults.
For folks who are unfamiliar with pediatric chiropractic care, it is not uncommon to have an inappropriate mental image of pediatric adjusting procedures. Throughout various stages of development, the pediatric spine and nervous system require different things. The approach used by a chiropractor should be appropriate for the developmental stage of the child, and advanced training through the International Chiropractic Pediatrics Association provides the necessary framework for evaluating and managing pediatric patients appropriately. A professionally trained and qualified pediatric chiropractor will not employ rough or violent manipulations in the care of kids at any stage of development. In fact, the amount of pressure used to effectively make an adjustment for a little one is about the same amount of pressure used to test the ripeness of a tomato!
As you can see, there is often misinformation that underlies many of the concerns related to pediatric chiropractic care. I would encourage further research on the topic by visiting icpa4kids.org. Here you can find resources and get the contact information for a qualified pediatric chiropractor near you. It’s a distinct honor to provide care for the whole family, and parents who are proactive in preventing issues related to sports injuries, concussion, and birth trauma have earned my utmost respect.