Adults are not the only ones who can benefit from alternative and complementary therapies. Various alternative treatments can also benefit children. One treatment, which may be beneficial for children with certain conditions is chiropractic care.
What’s Involved in Chiropractic Care?
Whether treatment is intended for children or adults, one of the primary goals of chiropractic care is to improve health and wellbeing through spinal adjustments. Adjustments are used to stimulate the body’s natural power to heal.
Chiropractic care can improve wellbeing and health, which may involve decreasing pain and increasing mobility and flexibility. Spinal problems, such as inflammation, pinched nerves and slipped discs, can cause problems in other areas of the body, not just the back.
When some of the 24 vertebrae that make up your spinal column are misaligned or aren’t functioning properly, it can lead to various problems throughout the nervous system and the rest of the body. The theory is when the spine is in correct alignment, the rest of the body is in better balance.
Adjustments are often the main part of chiropractic care for children. An adjustment involves therapeutic manipulation using controlled direction and force directed at certain joints. Adjustments are often made to the spine, but they may also involve the elbows, shoulders and ankles to restore proper alignment and joint function. Additional non-manual therapies may accompany an adjustment including ice, heat, exercises and nutritional supplements.
Conditions Chiropractic Care May Treat in Children
Although children are still developing, their spine can become misaligned even from an early age. Chiropractic care can be used to treat orthopedic conditions in children such as scoliosis, sports injuries and back and joint pain. But it might be surprising to learn that chiropractic care is often used to treat a variety of other conditions.
Cranial and spinal misalignment can lead to nervous system problems and common health complaints in children including chronic infections, sleep problems and headaches. Even certain problems, such as poor feeding in infants and colic may be associated with nervous system problems.
Throughout a child’s life, bumps and falls are common. Everything from sports to running around the playground can lead to small, subtle misalignments. As a child grows, keeping their spine in proper alignment with regular chiropractic care can lead to better health.
As a parent or guardian, it’s normal to have concerns about any type of treatment your child may undergo. If you’re considering chiropractic care, research indicates that children have complication rates from chiropractic care less frequently than adults. But if you have any concerns, talk with your pediatrician.
It’s important to understand that chiropractors perform adjustments on children differently than they do on adults. In young children, only slight pressure is applied when making an adjustment. Older children may receive slight pressure and a gentle push to properly align the spine.
Keep in mind, in the United States, chiropractors are licensed to provide care to adults and children. Although it is more common for chiropractors to treat adults, many practitioners routinely provide care for people of all ages including kids.
Chiropractors with specialized training in pediatrics are also available if you prefer. Postgraduate training is available to chiropractors who want to work in pediatrics. The International Chiropractors Association offers a 3-year post-graduate program in pediatrics that leads to board certification in chiropractic pediatrics.
Advantages of Chiropractic Care for Children
Similar to adults, conventional treatments including surgery are invasive and often involve a long recovery time. Certain treatments can also be painful and unpleasant for children. Medication to treat pain can have side effects and be unhealthy for growing kids. Chiropractic care for children is gentle and a drug-free way to treat a variety of conditions.
Because drugs and invasive procedures are not used during chiropractic care, it is a natural approach to better health. It can also have additional benefits beyond what the treatment is intended for. For instance, when the spine is in correct alignment, the nerves can communicate with the body better allowing for optimal functioning. A child’s overall health may improve.
Preparing your Child for an Appointment
Going to any medical appointment can be frightening for children, especially if they don’t know what to expect. It’s best to talk to your child about their appointment before going to the chiropractor for the first time. Even young children can benefit from knowing what to expect.
Always use age-appropriate language when explaining what a chiropractor does. For example, you would likely explain things differently to a five-year-old than you would to a teen.
A good place to start is explaining how a chiropractor appointment is different from their regular doctor visits. If blood draws or vaccines were involved, some children might have had an unpleasant experience at their doctor. Let your child know that the procedures won’t hurt and they will not be getting any shots.
Talk to your child about what a visit will involve and give a brief overview of what an exam and adjustment are like. But avoid overwhelming your child with a lot of technical information that is difficult to understand.