Chiropractic has traditionally been associated with adults who suffer from bad backs. However, most kids don’t fall into this category, but according to the National Health Statistics, the use of Chiropractic for kids ranks number one against other complementary forms of healthcare (1). So the question begs, what is the Chiropractor’s objective of care with pediatric patients? And as a as a parent what should you know before taking your kid to a Chiropractor?
In a 2010 study by Alcantara et al., looking at Chiropractic care of Children, they identified many common pediatric conditions that parents take their kids to the Chiropractor for ranging from digestion, MSK problems, headaches to torticollis etc. In the study, the primary reason most parents brought their kids to the Chiropractor was wellness care (2).
Wellness care refers to the steps taken in order for a person to achieve optimum well-being. According to the World Health Organization, optimum well-being is a complete state of physical, mental, social and emotional health, not merely the absence of disease (3). These include actions taken to prevent disease or illness and also refers to the act of receiving and seeking continuous healthcare even in the absence of health problems.
Chiropractic for the pediatric population is not concerned with the treatment of disease or illness and it must be clear that Chiropractic is not a cure for anything. Chiropractic is not a treatment for any disease. The objective of the Chiropractor is to detect neurological interference to the vital nervous system and make specific and gentle adjustments when necessary.
The nervous system is the master control system of the body that controls all function including respiration, digestion, elimination, growth, motor control and so much more. Chiropractic’s goal is to maximize the expression of your nervous system to allow your biological intelligence, to be fully expressed throughout your life.
They recognize that you, your mind and body, like all other organic systems in the universe, are self-developing, self-maintaining and self-healing and that these systems work best when they are free of interference. Your nervous system is responsible for orchestrating the internal and external dialogue of your body necessary for life to be fully expressed.
Chiropractors also recognize that there are three interferences to proper nervous system function which are physical trauma, environmental toxins and emotional stress. Your body’s inability to adapt to these stresses leads to subluxations that can create a decline in your health expression (4).
A subluxation is a misalignment of the vertebrae or spinal bones that causes interference to the signals travelling to and from the brain through the spinal cord and nerves. Subluxations create decreased expression of your body’s intelligence and reduce its functional capacity. Therefore, the purpose of a Chiropractor is to correct these interferences via a specific and gentle chiropractic adjustment, allowing you to express your full potential and live an extraordinary life. Subsequently, many health conditions may get better as a result of improved neurological function, however, this is a side effect and not the focus of the Chiropractor.
When a child presents to a Chiropractic office, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, the Chiropractor will take an in-depth history and then perform a series of function-based assessments. These assessments may include posture, range of motion, neurological tests, orthopedic tests, proprioception, balance, thermography, electromyography, heart rate variability, palpation, reflexes and X-ray.
If nerve system interference is present, then the Chiropractor will perform a series of adjustments to improve the function of the nervous system and remove any subluxations. The number of adjustments depends on the severity of the subluxation pattern and other comorbidities that may affect the prognosis.
The doctor of Chiropractic will track the progress through objective function-based assessments. For instance, from a physical perspective they may look for increased range of motion, soft tissue integrity, posture and articular function. From a chemical perspective they look at improvement of overall systems function including inflammation, tympanic membrane, skin, digestion, nasal mucosa and bronchial/respiratory function. From an emotional perspective they look at contentment, activity level, sleep patterns, social adaptation and overall attitude (5).
What role does lifestyle play?
Chiropractors also recognize the role that lifestyle plays in overall health and give lifestyle recommendations whether nutrition, exercise, etc. If any red flags come up or the need of co-management is appropriate, then referrals are made. This honors the individual needs of each child as well as the skills of the individual practitioners, like you, that specialize in what they do.
You have probably heard the saying, ‘once you go to a Chiropractor, you have to go for the rest of your life.’ This is not true. The wellness benefits of Chiropractic are maintained as long as you keep your nervous system clear and free from interference. Just like going to the gym and eating healthy, when you stop, the benefits stop. People choose to go back to the Chiropractor because they make it part of their healthy lifestyle. As an integral part of a team of health care professionals, the Chiropractor works tirelessly to ensure the health and well-being of the next generation…this is the objective of the pediatric Chiropractor.
If you need help locating a Chiropractor who works with children near you visit https://icpa4kids.com or send me a message. You can also check out our website to learn more.
Dr. Thomas Green D.C.
1.Barnes PM, Bloom B. Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults and children: United States, 2007. Nat Health Stats Rep 2008; 12.
2.Alcantara A, Ohm J, Kunz D. The chiropractic care of children. J of Alt Comp Med 2010; 16 (6): 621-626.
3. Constitution [Internet]. World Health Organization. World Health Organization; [cited 2019Sep16]. Available from: https://www.who.int/about/who-we-are/constitution
4.Stephenson RW. Chiropractic Textbook. Davenport: The Palmer School of Chiropractic; 1948.
5.Carino A. ICPA Module: Assessing and reducing risks in the chiropractic family practice. 2018 Feb 3-4; Toronto, ON.