Chiropractic Care for Children: Ensuring Safety and Exploring Benefits

June 17, 2023

Chiropractic care is the largest and most popular form of complementary therapy available, with approximately 35 million Americans visiting a chiropractor each year[^1^]. What many people may not realize is that pediatric chiropractic care accounts for around 17% of these patients[^1^]. Parents seek chiropractic care for their children due to various reasons, but concerns about safety often arise. This article aims to address those concerns and provide evidence-based information to help parents make informed decisions regarding pediatric chiropractic care.

Is Pediatric Chiropractic Care Safe for Children?

Pediatric chiropractic care differs significantly from the treatment provided to adults. While adults may experience characteristic "pops" during spinal adjustments, this is not the case for children, especially young children. Pediatric and family chiropractors consider the size and age of the child, applying gentle and proportionate pressure during treatments. These spinal manipulations resemble a gentle massage rather than the adjustments performed on adults. Moreover, chiropractic care for children encompasses a broader approach beyond spinal manipulations alone.

Experts have evaluated the safety of pediatric chiropractic care and have provided reassuring findings. The College of Chiropractors of British Columbia, responsible for chiropractic safety regulations, conducted a review in 2019, concluding that "the treatment of children with spinal manipulation therapy (SMT) does not present a significant risk to the public"[^2^]. Additionally, scientific studies indicate that adverse events following chiropractic treatments in children are rare and usually minor[^2^].

Understanding the Benefits of Pediatric Chiropractic Care

Now that we have established the safety of pediatric chiropractic care, let us explore its benefits. It is essential to ensure that a treatment is not only safe but also effective. Fortunately, chiropractic care for children offers a range of physical and mental benefits.

Unlike adults who can readily communicate their pain and discomfort, children face difficulties expressing their situations. Consequently, problems related to spinal misalignments, which can be treated by chiropractors, often take longer to diagnose in children. Signs of spinal misalignment in children may manifest as unspecified pain, sleep problems, stress/anxiety, issues with posture, and behavioral problems. Regular visits to a chiropractor, tailored to a suitable schedule, can proactively address potential issues.

Pediatric chiropractic care is particularly beneficial in treating sports injuries and injuries resulting from children's explorations during their early years. These minor injuries can distress children and potentially lead to musculoskeletal imbalances, which may cause future problems. Early treatment by a chiropractor can help prevent such complications.

In addition to treating pain complaints like back and neck pain or headaches, chiropractors can assist children in dealing with common issues such as stress, anxiety, behavioral problems, and sleep disturbances. While chiropractic treatments may not directly treat these problems, they can relieve pain, promote relaxation, and enhance overall body function, thereby enabling children to better cope with these challenges.

Many parents prefer non-pharmacological interventions for common childhood ailments due to the potential side effects associated with medications. In such cases, pediatric chiropractic care can be an ideal choice as it encourages the body's natural healing processes and carries a low risk of side effects.

How Young Should a Child Be for Their First Pediatric Chiropractic Care Visit?

Chiropractors are generally comfortable treating children as young as newborns, and it is advisable to bring your newborn to a chiropractor as early as two weeks old. The birthing process can be traumatic for babies and place significant stress on their spines. Consequently, some babies may have musculoskeletal issues that contribute to increased restlessness and distress. Additionally, spending several months in a curled-up position can further impact a baby's body. Chiropractic care can provide gentle adjustments to address any misalignments or imbalances in a newborn's spine, promoting optimal growth and development.

As children grow, their bodies undergo various changes and physical activities. Regular chiropractic check-ups can help ensure that their spines are properly aligned and functioning optimally. The frequency of visits may vary depending on the child's specific needs and any potential issues identified by the chiropractor. Some children may benefit from more frequent visits, especially if they are involved in sports or activities that put additional strain on their bodies.

It's important to note that pediatric chiropractic care is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Chiropractors who specialize in treating children are trained to adapt their techniques to suit the age, size, and individual needs of each child. They use gentle, age-appropriate adjustments, along with other complementary therapies such as massage, stretching exercises, and lifestyle recommendations, to provide comprehensive care.

When seeking pediatric chiropractic care for your child, it is crucial to choose a qualified and experienced chiropractor who specializes in treating children. Look for a chiropractor who has undergone additional training and certification in pediatric chiropractic care. You can also ask for recommendations from your pediatrician or other parents who have sought chiropractic care for their children.

In conclusion, pediatric chiropractic care can be safe and beneficial for children when provided by a qualified professional. It offers a non-invasive and drug-free approach to promote overall health and well-being, address musculoskeletal issues, and support the body's natural healing abilities. By ensuring proper spinal alignment and function, chiropractic care can contribute to improved physical comfort, better sleep, enhanced posture, and a healthier nervous system for children.

If you are considering pediatric chiropractic care for your child, it is advisable to consult with a chiropractor specializing in pediatric care to discuss your child's specific needs and any concerns you may have. They can provide personalized recommendations and guidance to help you make an informed decision about your child's healthcare.

Remember, open communication with the chiropractor and regular monitoring of your child's progress are essential for optimal results. With the right chiropractic care, you can support your child's overall health and help them thrive as they grow.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. Please consult with a healthcare professional for personalized recommendations regarding your child's health and well-being.

Additional info about chiropractors