The Kids Are Alright: Chiropractic Care for Children
By Genevieve Cunningham
Being a parent is a lot of work and worry. There’s so much that goes into raising a good human, so many things to consider. Making good friends, getting involved, learning values and ethics -- all of these require intention and effort on the part of the parents. But even before we reach these important milestones, we have to focus on the basics, most specifically, our children’s health.
Focusing on children’s health can take on a lot of different forms. For some parents, it means chasing down the very best specialists or finding the absolute best education program. For others, it’s finding just the right activity to keep our kids active and engaged. In our modern world, the desire for natural healthcare is growing as well. Fortunately, getting your child the best natural, preventative care is actually quite simple, and it all starts with a trip to your pediatrician and your local chiropractor.
When to Begin: What Age Can Children Begin Regular Chiropractic Care?
Professional care from a pediatrician begins immediately after birth and continues steadily throughout childhood. Chiropractic care can be a bit more confusing. When should a child begin pediatric chiropractic care? There are differing opinions on the matter, but it often comes down to three main ideas:
- Immediately after birth - There is evidence to suggest that birth can cause physical trauma to the infant, and chiropractic care can help alleviate the potential symptoms that may come as a result.
- Between 4 and 5 years old - Many consider this age to be the best for all types of extra or alternative care -- chiropractic care, dental care, and more.
- As needed - There are many who feel chiropractic care should only be used as needed. If the child complains of pain or discomfort, a trip to the chiropractor may become necessary.
Which of these thought processes is best? Most chiropractors agree that the best time to take your child to the chiropractor is whenever it feels right for your family. The potential benefits are vast and can affect children of all ages, meaning visits can begin whenever you're ready and continue long into adulthood.
What Are the Child-Specific Benefits of Chiropractic?
Most people are familiar with the general benefits of chiropractic care. The relief in back pain and headaches, the improvement in range of motion -- these are almost expected from new and experienced patients alike. Can children experience these same benefits? Absolutely. The good news, however, is that regular care for children is likely to lead to benefits that are specific to their particular stage in life, some of which may include:
- Better overall health - Once chiropractic care enters the picture, many parents find that their child suffers less illness and other common health issues, and instead care boosts the child’s overall health. This can range from ear infections in young children to viruses in kids of all ages to colic in the infant child.
- Better sleep - There are a lot of ways to improve sleeping habits for kids, including living a healthy lifestyle overall, but chiropractic care often gets left out. Research suggests that regular care may improve the time taken to fall asleep, as well as the overall hours of sleep that children get.
- Pain relief - Yes, kids experience pain too! Children grow and change very rapidly, and as a result, they suffer from pain, especially in the bones and joints. These pains, often dismissed as growing pains, can be very uncomfortable. Chiropractic adjustments may help the child manage the pain and become more comfortable in their changing body.
- Improved behavior - Parents may really appreciate this potential benefit. Some behavior -- especially behavior linked to neurodevelopmental disorders -- can be worse with spinal misalignments and an unhealthy nervous system. Chiropractic care can address the health of the spine, thus creating a healthier nervous system and a potential for better behavior.
How Does Chiropractic Benefit a Young Immune System?
Many find it surprising that chiropractic care might benefit a child’s immune system, but when looked at more closely, it actually makes perfect sense. Chiropractic care positively affects the nervous system -- which serves specifically as the body’s communication center. The immune system relies heavily on the health of the nervous system in order to do its job efficiently. If chiropractors are able to improve the health of the nervous system, the immune system often follows quickly behind.
Why does this matter? Parents know that children are germ factories. With all of the time spent with other children – playing, hugging, and touching the same objects -- it’s incredibly common to share germs and experience a wide range of illnesses throughout the childhood years. Children need their immune systems to be strong in order to fight off common illnesses and maintain their best health as they grow and mature into adults.
How Can Chiropractic Benefit Brain Development?
The nervous system, as previously mentioned, is highly susceptible to regular chiropractic care. Regular care has been shown time and again to encourage better health of the nervous system, which then creates a chain reaction in the body. It’s also important to note that the brain is part of the nervous system. The brain, the spinal cord, and the nerves in the body, all work together to communicate and carry out specific functions.
Because of the brain’s role within the nervous system, it only makes sense that chiropractic care may aid in the brain development of the growing child. By maintaining the healthiest nervous system, including the brain, children may find better regulation and balance of this system and improved brain-body connection as they grow.
Do Chiropractic Needs Change as a Child Ages?
Our needs are constantly changing. As children age, it’s reasonable to expect that their chiropractic needs change as well. Instead of dealing with ear infections, they may need care for aches and pains related to sports or rough and tumble incidents during outdoor playtime. Instead of worrying about the developing immune system of a small child, the focus may be strengthening the immune system of an older child.
The method, however, is unlikely to change much. Chiropractic care is considered safe for people of all ages, and though the reasons for getting care and the exact method of treatment may be adjusted with each patient, the most important aspect is still to simply get to the clinic where a professional can help make a plan for your health and wellness. The chiropractor will likely treat the infant in a different way than the middle-aged adult, but the outcome -- better overall health -- will remain the main goal of chiropractors and their patients everywhere.
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this page are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this post is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, including but not limited to the benefits of chiropractic care, exercise and nutrition. It is not intended to provide or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your chiropractor, physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this page.