Why would a chiropractor adjust children?

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Kids developing spinal problems don’t usually complain about pain so we have to pay careful attention to their behavior.

  • Is your infant only nursing on one side?
  • When you look at your baby’s bottom, do you see more creases on one side than the other?
  • Does your baby prefer to scoot rather than crawl?
  • Does your toddler get frequent ear infections or pull on the earlobes?
  • Does your child have a clumsy streak, or poor coordination with sports?
  • Does one side of the hem of your child’s clothing hang longer than the other?
  • Does your child tend to slouch or slump?

All of these are signs that your child’s physical health would likely benefit from gentle chiropractic care.

Is chiropractic adjusting the same for children and babies as it is for adults?

There are similarities and differences. Adjustments are gentler the smaller the kiddo. Because very young children and babies have joints that aren’t fully mature, the adjustment of young children isn’t going to include the same popping experience that it might for adults. Some chiropractors adjust kids with their hands, some use an instrument, but either way the adjustments are less forceful than they would be for adults. Chiropractors who use non-force techniques will usually use the same technique with children as they do with adults.

Is my child going to like getting adjusted?

In my experience, the main reasons parents hesitate to get their children adjusted are that they don’t believe it is going to do anything, and they worry that it might hurt.

Is there any benefit to seeing a pediatric chiropractic specialist, or can my kids just see my chiropractor?

Yes and yes. Like your family’s OB-Gyn or pediatrician, some chiropractors have had training in pediatric and/or pre-natal care above and beyond what is normal in chiropractic school. If they have, they will probably have certification from the ICPA. That extra training can make all the difference for kids with significant health concerns, congenital abnormalities, or acute injuries, since pediatric conditions and injuries are different from adult injuries.

But if your kids are healthy, and you just want them to grow up without the little misalignments that can lead to chronic pain as an adult, taking them with you to your chiropractor should be fine, but ask first. Many chiropractors love adjusting kids, and will happily say yes to helping your whole family. Some chiropractors will say no, and refer you to a pediatric chiropractor. Don’t be insulted by this, they do it because they feel like it would be best for your child.

Rarely, some chiropractors may be uncomfortable because they don’t have much experience with treating children, but wouldn’t want you to feel rejected by saying no, and so begrudgingly say yes without having the skills or practice infrastructure to fully treat children. Hey, chiropractors are only human, and it is a byproduct of caring so much about our patients that we sometimes feel pressured to do things we aren’t perfectly comfortable with. It’s this last faction you might want to avoid, because they might miss signs of a more serious medical condition just due to inexperience.

How can you tell? Personally, I would phrase it this way: “My daughter fell out of a treehouse on Monday, and has been complaining of neck pain since then. I saw that Dr. Jones is an ICPA certified chiropractic pediatrician, is she someone you would recommend?”

Of course, your chiropractor would not adjust your child without doing an exam first. The exam for children is usually much quicker than for adults, because children can’t give the same feedback as adults, and have a shorter attention span, but fast doesn’t equal easy, unnecessary, or free-of-charge. You should make them an appointment, and budget time and money for the exam, and be prepared for a referral instead of an adjustment if your chiropractor finds evidence of a problem that is out of their scope of experience. Please, PLEASE never put your chiropractor in the awkward situation of bringing your child into their busy office and surprising them with “can Kelsie get an adjustment today, too?” Even if they love caring for kids, your child deserves to be carefully evaluated, and your chiropractor sets up new patient appointments for a reason.

How else might a chiropractor help children, other than adjusting?

Kids also respond incredibly quickly to quality nutritional intervention, although this is again different from what adults need, so may be something you’ll want to talk to a chiropractic pediatric specialist about. My favorite first line of nutritional supplementation for nearly all kids is a high-quality fish oil.

For kids who have a traumatic history and are prone to melt-downs, anxiousness, or other behavioral or brain-based symptoms, we offer powerful tools to use at home to help them get calm and back in control.