In 2018, there are more parents seeking out chiropractors for their children not only for issues with digestion, feeding, colic, reflux, and sleeping difficulties, but also as the primary care provider for their families. Chiropractic maintains that the human body was designed to function properly, given the proper conditions. Subluxation, a condition of the spine in which improper joint mechanics causes disturbances in the transmission of proper nerve signals between the body and the brain, exists in children as well as adults. Chiropractors are trained to recognize the physical and neurological indicators of vertebral subluxation and specifically correct the cause of the nerve interference.
Even for me, the idea of a newborn baby or young child having something wrong with his/her spine sounds a bit far-fetched, but let’s think about the physical, chemical, and emotional stresses a newborn is destined to endure. The day a baby is born is the most stressful day of its life. Up until that point, she has been in a dark, warm, fluid-filled sac, completely sterile of pathogens and nearly independent from gravity’s forces. When the big day arrives, she endures 5-10 hours (if she’s lucky) of active labor and contractions around her head and then a pair of large, cold hands (again, if she’s lucky and it’s not a pair of pliers or a vacuum) grabs her little 6-pound head and pulls with 120-150 pounds of force followed by 90 degrees of rotation so her shoulder can clear the pelvic outlet. Not only does this upset her physically and emotionally, but now she has to avoid the chemical trauma of being exposed to any bacteria or pathogen that her immature immune system is not equipped to handle yet, and in most cases she is probably born into an extremely pathogen-rich environment – the hospital. This completely normal process causes a large amount of stress on her upper cervical spine, or upper neck, since this area is mechanically designed for head/neck rotation. The pulling and twisting can irritate the joints in the upper neck. A swollen joint capsule between the bones in the upper neck as a result of the physical trauma causes motion restriction and can irritate the nerve roots and brain stem at that level.
We understand that the lower portion of the brainstem, which is adjacent to the C1 vertebra, controls respiration, heartbeat, blood pressure, and digestion. The nerves in the upper neck are going to control parasympathetic functions in the body – rest, digest, feed, breed. Any interference with these functions will cause a “sympathetic override,” and now the baby’s nervous system is stuck in “flight-or-flight mode,” which will inhibit digestion and immune function. With a very gentle and specific adjustment using 6-8 ounces of sustained contact pressure, about the pressure you would use to test for the ripeness of an avocado, we can restore the proper position and mechanics to the upper cervical area and significantly reduce the stress to the infant’s nervous system.
One of my favorite past times is perusing YouTube or Facebook for videos of kids visiting their family chiropractors. I have the techniques down, but as a younger doc I can always learn more about how to interact with kids and make their experiences fun. However, there seems to always be major concerns in the comments sections about the nature of chiropractic care for children. Most of the concerns arise from uncertainty and lack of education on the topic, which is understandable, thus spawn the idea for this blog post. Common concerns/questions I have read are:
- “Why does that child see the chiropractor? Does he have back pain?”
- “What medical condition does that child have that requires him to see a chiropractor?”
- “Why isn’t that child seeing a ‘real doctor’?”
- “Is that treatment safe for a child? What if he breaks his spine?”
My thoughts as a chiropractor to these responses are: if a child can endure the normal birthing process, and all the trauma that accompanies learning to walk, playing with friends, rollerblading, sports, etc., then there should be no concern for a sustained point of pressure on a vertebra using less than 1 pound of force, or at the very most a quick, shallow corrective adjustment using 10-20 pounds of pressure, without rotation, on an individual vertebra of an older child. The medical condition that the child has is vertebral subluxation, which retards the brain’s ability to control the rest of the body, which can manifest as a myriad of non-specific signs or symptoms. We also know that symptoms like pain usually take 10-15 years to develop from the initial onset of the underlying problem, so if the child has a vertebral subluxation, allowing that nerve interference to remain while the brain and nervous system is developing and waiting for pain to arise before finding a chiropractor would not be a wise decision for his/her health. A proactive strategy for health would include having the child checked for nerve interference immediately after birth! A stress-free nervous system will allow the brain to develop optimally throughout the younger years when 90% of the development and growth occurs.
There are many lifestyle strategies you can use to ensure that your kids are as healthy as possible like proper diet and nutrition, avoiding unnecessary chemical exposure through our food supply, providing a loving and nurturing support system as they grow, ensuring that they get an adequate amount of sleep, proper socialization, etc. All of these factors are extremely important, and it’s worth mentioning that there are no “home runs” in health. Having a subluxation-based chiropractor on your team who is trained to detect and correct nerve interference at the spine is just one more “base hit” to boost your child’s ability to thrive.
Let’s peruse the research journals:
This study performed by Alcantara demonstrated improvements in the quality of life of 881 children who were under chiropractic care for wellness: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2017.0141?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%3Dpubmed&
Shtulman and Alcantara perform a review of literature and report a case study of a 3.5 month old female whose symptoms of colic, GERD, and failure to thrive due to digestive issues resolved through subluxation-based chiropractic care. The authors state, “the patient received chiropractic adjustments to reduce vertebral subluxation appropriate for the patient’s age and mass over a total of 8 visits. Medical follow-up found the infant’s pediatrician noting the patient gained weight and without further concern canceled a referral to a gastrointestinal specialist.”
Vacuum extracted infant with birth-trauma associated symptoms of “infantile colic, acid reflux, restlessness, inability to relax and/or lay on his back, difficulty sleeping and general irritability” resolved after 7 weeks of chiropractic care to reduce vertebral subluxation:
Successful resolution of breastfeeding difficulties and plagiocephaly in a 2-week-old infant under routine chiropractic care to reduce vertebral subluxation:
This 8-month-old had been constipated and had not had a bowel movement in 5 days. Increased water intake did not assist with elimination. After 5 visits to the chiropractor, who exclusively used the Gonstead technique, the mother reports that her son had an abnormally large bowel movement in the car on the way home, and had additional bowel movements later that evening:
Resolution of birth-trauma-induced Erb-Duchenne’s Palsy under subluxation-based chiropractic care in a 5-month-old female:
Published in the Journal of Headache and Pain, a 6-year-old male with headaches of 2-year duration had extensive medical diagnostics performed with no organic basis or diagnosis for the headaches. After 10 visits over a 2-month period to a subluxation-based chiropractor, the young boy experienced a full recovery from his condition:
A 4-year-old boy had a failed tube surgery for his recurring ear infections, to which his medical provider recommended another tube surgery. After 12 weeks of consistent subluxation-based chiropractic care, the boy experienced resolution from ear infections and his mother cancelled the second surgery.
If you would like to schedule a complementary consult with Dr. Brennon for yourself or your child who may be struggling to find answers to a common problem, please give us a call at (337) 324-3031. We look forward to serving you and your family!