Why should children see a chiropractor?
Do I need to take my child for a checkup?
Why do chiropractors see children?
This is an often asked question. I think it stems from the image that people see why they might go to see a chiropractor. Probably the most common reason a person seeks out a chiropractor is for back pain, and chiropractic often does have a very effective solution for this common problem. However chiropractic is much more than a back pain reliever.
Chiropractic works on the premise that the body works as a whole and is therefore referred to as a "holistic" treatment. The brain is the controller of your whole body. For example, if you want to pick up a glass the brain fires a signal down yor spine to the appropriate muscle group/s and then you are able to pick up the glass. (In reality it is a bit more complicated than that but the preceding was a synopsis of what occurs). So in order to function properly the brain needs to talk to the rest of your body.
The spinal cord is the pathway that leads from your brain, within your spine down your back. From the spinal cord branches of nerves come off to supply the muscles of your body and also the internal organs. The brain therefore controls your whole body, not only the muscles but your breathing, heart, urinary function and every cell of your body.
So if you come in with back pain the chiropractor will ask you not only about the pain, where it is, how long have you had it etc but they will also ask you about the rest of your health. This history gives us an insight as to what is happening in your body. Is the message getting through from the brain to the back and to all areas of the body.? Where might the blockage or interference in the body be located?
As an adult or older child you are able to tell us these things. You are able to say where it hurts, when it started, if you had a fall or sitting long hours at a desk. As a infant or toddler you are unable to do so. You can't say that you were stuck for nine months in an awkward position that put pressure on your neck. You can't say that being pulled out by forceps put pressure on your head and now you have a headache and upsets your tummy. As a toddler you can't say that sitting for hours in the car seat has made you uncomfortable or irritable. That sitting in the one position has tightened you neck so that the fluid cannot drain from your ears and now you have an earache. All you can do is cry, become irritable, not eat properly or digest you food properly, and not sleep well. As this small child you cannot articulate any of these things into words all you can do is show us how you feel.
When a child is seen by a chiropractor with a special interest in Paediatrics they will be given a thorough check. We want to make sure that your child begins life with the best possible potential. Whether your child presents with symptoms or just a check-up a thorough history of the birth and labour process is always taken. This is then followed by a thorough physical examination appropriate for their age. A neurodevelopmental screening then follows. We want to know how your child is developing. Is their brain communicating with the rest of their body so that they are developing appropriately.
Quite commonly the birthing process causes undue strain on the neck and shoulder complex, this might result in plagiocephaly (misshaped head) and/or torticollis. With the right management this is often easily ameliorated.
So why bring a baby to a chiropractor? So that they might reach their full potential, to give them the best start in life to make sure their development is appropriate, and to dissipate any discomfort.