As a specialized pediatric chiropractor, I’ve noticed that many people are unaware that children can be adjusted and that they actually need it too! So, I thought it would be helpful to explain why kids (at different ages) can be treated by a chiropractor as well as how the adjusting technique is different when compared to adults.
Why do kids need to be adjusted?
Chiropractic for Newborns (first 28 days):
A newborn baby needs to be checked by a chiropractic physician because they will have inevitably experienced birth trauma (any distress the baby experiences during the delivery, whether its natural, c-sections, vacuum or forceps assisted, which can cause spinal or neurological dysfunctions) (1). The fact of the matter is that during birth the child experiences compression and traction forces and it is important to have the newborn checked by your chiropractor. The child is usually head first during delivery and since their cranial bones are not fused yet they can end up overlapping to allow them to fit through the birth canal. A pediatric chiropractor is able to gently manipulate the areas where the cranial bones have overlapped. Craniosacral therapy can also assist with this. Additionally, a chiropractor can perform a full check on the child’s nervous system since this is our area of specialty. All that being said, your baby might be as healthy as can be but it doesn’t hurt to have them checked.
Chiropractic for Infants (1-12 months):
After birth there are quite a few conditions that may arise and chiropractic may be able to help treat them. Have you noticed that your baby keeps his/her head tilted to one side? This is congenital torticollis and might be associated with some cranial changes as well. Or your baby might be very fussy and is having difficulty staying asleep. Also, colic most often occurs between 2-6 weeks and can be very stressful for the parents. Babies may even experience acid reflux, which can be quite uncomfortable for them as it is for adults.
By around three months your baby will be able to hold up their head, between 4 and 6 months your baby will be able to sit up and between 6 and 9 months your baby will be crawling all over the place. It is always important to have your baby checked with these types of developmental milestones.
Chiropractic for Toddlers (1-3 years old):
Your kiddo has probably just started walking and with walking comes new development and movements in the lumbar spine (low back) as well as bumps and tumbles. It’s important to have them checked at this time to make sure they are moving freely and in case they take a bad fall.
Chiropractic for Children (4-10 years old):
Now the kids are in school and one of the first things to look at is proper backpack fitting and safety because carrying the extra weight can affect their growing spines! According to the ACA, 60% of children who carry a heavy backpack experience back pain (2). Furthermore, study indicates that the occurrence of low back pain during growth is a risk factor for low back pain in adulthood. Your chiropractor can help explain the proper posture and use of a backpack as well as help resolve the associated back and neck pain.
At this age kids are also playing all kinds of games, games we have never heard of because as kids we had the playground and ring around the rosy. Now they have all kinds of electronics and even playground games are new (and very physical). So, if your children experience any type of trauma or pain from these activities, take them in to your local pediatric chiropractor to be checked.
Chiropractic for Preteens/Teens (11-18 years):
So those babies are almost all grown up, but first, high school! Well, this is the age for sports and extra curricular activities. If your child experiences an injury during a game or practice, your chiropractor may be able to help, especially if it is musculoskeletal related.
Pediatric chiropractic techniques and safety
Well, newborns and infants are adjusted similarly. There are pediatric specific techniques that are used and they are nothing like regular adult adjustments. Usually, there is only about 5 grams of pressure involved with just a finger tip contact, and a pediatric toggle board might be used. Depending on the condition, nutritional counseling, pediatric soft tissue massage, and kinesiotaping might all be options for treatment as well.
For toddlers and children, adjustments may start to look more similar to adult adjustments but speed and force are modified depending on the size and age of the child.
By preteen and teenage years, the child is treated mostly as an adult would be. On average females are done growing between 12 and 14 years old and males between 14 and 16 years old, so their spines are very similar to an adult spine (3). Again, more than just adjustments may be used to treat your child depending on the condition but your pediatric chiropractor can specify the treatments that would be best for your child.
Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find a pediatric chiropractor near you at ICPA. For more information, visit our pediatric chiropractic page.
Dr. Neha Shah
White Oak Family Wellness
405 Illinois Avenue #2b
St. Charles, IL 60174