When paediatric chiropractic care comes up in conversation, most people are puzzled. “Why would a baby need chiropractic care?”
Often the first trauma we are exposed to is our own birth. During birth, the primary mechanism of injury to the spinal cord and skull is excessive traction applied to the spinal column, cord and cranium. (Think forceps, vacuum extractions and C-sections, where the baby is pulled out by the neck or head without any help of the natural muscular contractions of a vaginal birth.) The spinal canal and brain are covered by a system of membranes known as the dura-meningeal system. Traction on the dura-meningeal system has been shown to cause micro-tearing and swelling of these membranes. So, unlike adult chiropractic care which is directed to muscles and joints, the type of paediatric care I learned at this seminar targets this dura-meningeal system by taking stress off these membranes.
People often also wonder about the nature of force used with paediatric chiropractic.
When working with infants, the touch is described as like molding soft taffy – very gentle and slow pressure. The amount of pressure applied to the baby’s spine or cranium is likened to what you would use to test the ripeness of a tomato. Mom or Dad usually lies down with their baby on their abdomen for the treatment, and baby is very comfortable throughout treatment. The concept of ‘less is more’ is used with chiropractic treatment of children, so treatments are quite brief – usually about 10 minutes – which also works well given the attention span of a youngster! Because children and babies are so pliable, they are quick to respond and chiropractic issues are resolved with within a few (4-6) visits.
Another common question: “How do we know if our child needs to see a chiropractor?”
The scientific literature supports chiropractic care for babies and children. I often get referrals from family doctors for little ones with diagnoses of colic, issues with breast-feeding (e.g. latching difficulty, only latching on one side), GERD (acid reflux), constipation, enuresis (bed-wetting), sleep disturbances, ADD/ADHD and more.
This being said, most indicators for treatment of babies and children are objective and not based necessarily on subjective findings/symptoms. Because babies and kids do not always present with clear symptomatology and certainly are not able to just tell us what they’re feeling, I often suggest bringing in any new infant regardless of symptoms or signs that something is wrong. Once a trained chiropractor can physically see the child, there are often clear signs in their appearance or with certain tests that indicate the need for chiropractic intervention.
If you or someone you know has a child who has not yet been checked by a chiropractor, I can have a look at them and make sure they are on the right track. Call 1-902-404-3668 to book.
by Dr Erin Kempt-Sutherland, DC