Dr. Zach here today to talk a little bit about chiropractic care for kiddos.
I want to be able to answer most of the questions parents and kids themselves have about chiropracic care. In order to do that, I will be taking a look at some of the evidence that surrounds pediatric chiropractic care as well as discuss some of Dr. Brynn's and my clinical experiences with kids.
One of the most commonly asked questions we get from parents and grandparents is: "Should my child/grandchild get adjusted?"
I think it is a great question to ask when looking at taking care of your little one's at home!
Before I answer that question, I want to take a look at some pediatric chiropractic research out there to take a look at some possible risk factors kids may have for back pain as well as the effectiveness of adjustments for treatment.
The article I am looking at is from the Journal of Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, and is a two-part review that aims to see if there are triggers or risk factors for kids and back pain!
The potential risk factors for back pain in children are as follows:
- Older age
- Later pubertal status
- Positive family history of back pain
- Increased growth
For some reason, it is often thought that kids don't experience back pain. While once uncommon, this article shows that back pain is common in kids and there are risk factors associated with it!
Therefore, be sure to listen to your kids when they have aches and pains. (Coming from the non-parent, thanks, right?)
The second most common question parents ask: "Is chiropractic care effective/safe for kids?"
Before noting what the research states about pediatric chiropractic care, it is important to note that our research is limited. Obtaining high-quality evidence in chiropractic and manual therapies is difficult, especially in children.
As of now, high-quality research in pediatric chiropractic care is scarce and inconsistent in its effectiveness. There have been some studies showing really interesting, effective functional outcomes correlated to chiropractic care, but for now, the research remains unclear. We hope this is a topic that receives more attention in the research world because there are some really interesting case studies on kids getting adjusted!
There are many cases of conditions such as colic, ear infections, bedwetting, etc. have seen great results when getting treated by a chiropractor! While the evidence supporting the treatment of these conditions with a chiropractor may remain unclear, it is important to note the cases that have shown success. Whether or not the results were a direct cause of chiropractic care needs to be further studied, but it should not be dismissed!
Dr. Brynn & myself practice evidence-based care in our office which is composed of three pillars: best scientific evidence, clinical experience & patient preference.
I wanted to talk a little bit about both our experiences with kids in the clinic, and what we saw.
Our examinations are tailored to each patient and where they are at. In the case of pediatric care, our examinations are tailored uniquely to each child to ensure a proper diagnosis and treatment.
Chiropractors aren't adjusting kids the same way we are adjusting adults. Modifications on our end are made to use less force and smaller contact points. On those extremely young (0 to about 2-3) chiropractors are rarely thrusting on the patients.
One common technique is to use long sustained pressure over the areas of the spine that require it. There are plenty of ways for us to adopt our treatment to fit the need of each child. Whether your child needs to wear their superhero cape, have the lights off, or hold mom's hand during the adjustment, we want both parent and child to feel comfortable throughout the experience.
Now, I would be lying if I said adjusting a child the first time in clinic wasn't a bit of a nerve-wracking experience. I would also be lying if I said adjusting kids wasn't some of my favorite patients to adjust.
I was lucky enough to take care of a few families in our Palmer College clinics (thanks, Dr. Clark). Not only were they a bright spot in my day, but it presented an awesome new clinical challenge for me.
I took care of a 1 year old with plagiocephaly, a 3 year old with occasional aches and pains from playing, and a 10 year old that was growing into their body and experiencing some spinal pain related symptoms with it.
In the case of the young child with plagiocephaly, we were able to perform some soft tissue treatments & adjustments and saw a mild reduction in the flattening of the skull over the course of 2 months. Was it becuase of the adjustments and soft tissue work? Maybe. Was it something that self-resolved on it's own? Another possibility. Was it pretty freakin' sweet to see those changes? You bet!
In the case of the 3 year old who played the role of big sister and queen of a chaotic treatment room, we treated her for preventative care and for minor aches and pains associated with playing around the house. She loved getting adjusted and also said I was making "popcorn" when she would hear the popping sound from the adjustments.
For the growing 10 year old, she would complain of episodic knee and low back pain. We used a taping technique for her knee and adjustments for the low back pain in which she would also let out a big sigh of relief and smile.
Kids don't ONLY need to be adjusted because they brighten Dr. Brynn and my day, but because they are living, moving human beings like the rest of us! They run, jump, & fall multiple times within an hour. There growing bodies provide buoyancy, but also the potential for injury.
Our job as practitioners is to give parents the best tools we can to allow them to make evidence-informed decisions about their child's health. Although research may not be where we would like, we still encourage parents to have their children checked in our office to see if there are ways we can help.
We don't make you bring your kids in, we don't make ridiculous claims to their health, and we will always have their best interests in mind, just as we do yours. We want to have honest and open conversations about the use of chiropractic care for each child's condition, and see if it is the best choice for you both.
Bringing your child into the chiropractor can be a scary/intimidating feeling for them. We strive to make sure everyone in our office feels comfortable. Even if that requires a dad joke from myself.
As always, please ask us if you have any questions about your child (or yourself) getting adjusted! We want to put any worries or fears to rest with no-nonsense answers about how we can help.
If you would like to read more into the research articles used for today's blog check them out below.
See you all soon.
Beynon, A. "Potential risk factors and triggers for back pain in children and young adults. A scoping review, part II: unclear or mixed types of back pain" 19 November 2019. https://chiromt.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12998-019-0281-8