What is Chiropractic Care?
Chiropractic is a natural method of health care that treats the causes of physical problems rather than just the symptoms. Chiropractic is based on a simple but powerful premise: With a normally functioning spine and nerves and a healthy lifestyle, your child’s body is better able to heal itself. That’s because the spinal cord, which is protected by the spine, is the main pathway of the nervous system. The nervous system controls movement, feeling, and function throughout your child’s body.
Your chiropractor has at least six years of professional training in the sciences and health care, leading to a doctor of chiropractic (DC) degree. He or she works to maintain or restore your child’s health and guides you in a personalized approach to your child’s overall wellness – through spinal care, exercise and good nutrition.
How does my Baby’s Spine Develop?
Adults have three natural curves in their spines that help support their bodies. At birth, an infant has only one curve. The other curves develop as the child begins to hold up his or her head and learns to crawl and stand.
- At birth – The spine of a newborn is C-Shaped, with one curve. A newborn has neither the balancing curves nor the strength to hold his or her head upright.
- At about six months – As your infant lifts his or her head during the first few months, the neck (cervical) curve and its muscles develop. Strong neck muscles help an infant hold up a heavy head.
- At about nine months – As your infant learns to crawl and stand, the lower back (lumbar) curve and its muscles develop. Strong back muscles help give your child the strength and balance to walk and run.
Can Chiropractic Care Help my Child?
A child’s spine can be stressed or injured during birth. As children learn to walk and run, they fall and can suffer strains and sprains. Periodic checks by a doctor of chiropractic can help identify any developing weaknesses in your child’s spine.
To help determine whether your child needs treatment, your chiropractor asks questions about your child’s birth and development, such as: Did anything unusual happen during birth? At what age did your child begin to crawl? Stand? Walk? How do you hold your child? Does your child have unexplained pain, discomfort, or crying? What are your child’s physical activities? What falls or injuries has your child had?
Your chiropractor will observe your child’s posture and movements, check reflexes and range of motion in joints, gently palpate the spine, and check for scoliosis (curvature of the spine). The exam should not be painful for your child.
Based on the results of your child’s exam, your doctor of chiropractic may recommend a treatment program to correct any abnormal curvature of the spine, joints or bones that are not moving properly, or loss of flexibility in the spine. If needed, your child’s chiropractor also consults with or refers you to other medical specialists, such as a pediatrician.
How does a Chiropractor treat my Child?
It’s important for your child to grow up with a healthy spine. Early spinal exams by a doctor of chiropractic may help prevent many health problems later in life. A chiropractor is trained to help maintain or restore the health of your child’s spine through adjustments and other gentle treatments. Children usually respond quickly to treatment.
Spinal adjustments for children are usually different from adjustments for adults. Your chiropractor gently presses on the spine to restore proper motion of the vertebrae and relax the muscles. Your child should feel no pain.
Other types of Chiropractic Care
Your chiropractor may suggest other types of treatment to help correct any problems with your child’s spine. These may include ice or heat therapy for older children, exercises that help your child develop strong muscles, and things you can do to help your child maintain good nutrition, posture, and sleeping habits.
How can I help my child?
You can help your child develop a health spine by scheduling regular chiropractic exams, just as you would regular dental appointments. Observe your child’s movements and follow these steps.
- When you lift or hold an infant, always support the child’s back and neck with your hands. Pick up and older child by grasping his or her body under both arms. Never pick up your child by the arms or legs.
- Use an approved car seat that supports your baby’s head and neck.
- Provide a firm bed and chairs. Make sure your child gets enough sleep and eats a well-balanced diet.
- Make sure your child wears appropriate protective gear when playing sports.
- If your child uses a backpack, make sure it’s carried over both