Why Chiropractic Care of Children doesn’t need to be Controversial
Earlier this week we talked about pregnancy and massage. That got us to thinking about babies. There has been a lot of controversy about chiropractic treatment of babies and young children, and sadly some claims that chiropractic treatment can solve all sorts of illnesses that in reality it cannot. However, there is a place for careful chiropractic treatment of babies and young children.
If we accept that the healthy growth and development of the spine and nervous system in children is essential, we can see that there is a place for chiropractic care in certain circumstances. But first, let’s have a look at the development of the spine.
When a baby is born, their spine is in a clear C shape, the classic ‘foetal position’. It is made up of very small bones surrounded by cartilage. In fact, the spine does not fully ossify (turn to bone) until around the age of 20.
As your baby grows, the spine starts to take on the S shape of an adult spine. Around 3 months, when your baby starts lifting their head, the cervical (upper) spine takes on a backwards C shape. As your baby begins to crawl and then walk, the lumber (lower) spine also develops a backward C shape. Allowing your baby’s spine to make these changes in shape is vitally important to their healthy development.
Spending too much time in car-seats or baby carriers can restrict development of the muscles in the neck, impacting on the development of the cervical spine changes. This is why ‘tummy time’ is so important. It allows your baby to learn to lift their head, strengthening the muscles and creating the right shape for the spine. Similarly, too much time on their back in a pram or upright with unsupported spine and legs can be problematic.
The ideal position for young babies is in a sling, providing support for the C shape of the spine, but allowing strength to develop in the cervical spine.
Healthy development of the curves in our spines is important because they provide us with both flexibility and shock absorption. So if anything disturbs these natural developments, long term health issues can be the result.
Chiropractic Care in Childhood
Chiropractors are specialists in the development of the musculoskeletal system. This means they are uniquely qualified to determine if there are problems in the structural development of our bodies.
Bearing in mind that children’s bodies are not just mini versions of adult bodies, an experienced Chiropractor will approach treatment of babies and children very differently to that of an adult.
The ubiquitous ‘cracking’ which chiropractors have in the past been famous for is not appropriate in children and should never be attempted. Treatment is much gentler, and will typically focus on gentle muscular manipulations. No strong force should be used, and if you have seen a chiropractor doing so, you should not allow them to treat your young child.
Chiropractors can, however, provide safe, gentle treatment that ensures your child’s musculoskeletal development is healthy, and correct problems that may result from birth trauma or intervention, car-seats, and – as they get older – school bag weight, computer and phone use and sporting injuries.
If you have any concerns about your child’s development, call our Baulkham Hills Clinic on 9639 7337 to make an appointment with our experienced Chiropractor.