Good to Know
One of the most common things we hear in relation to chiropractic for children is : but my child has no pain, why do they ned to be examined? From a medical perspective this argument sounds reasonable, however the reality is that pain is often the last symptom to appear in realtion to a health condition. The absence of symptoms is also not the defintion of health. A child that complains of the same pain for more than a day though likely needs attention for something, since one-off complaints can be an attention seeking device. Children are prone to accidents and falls, and while most of them have no outward injuries, often times something may not be right but only reveal itself at a later date. In this regard we recommend an examination to check if everything is indeed ok.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR
There are 5 signs or indicators that may indicate that your child should be examined
1. Sleep quality / quantity / pattern changes
2. Digestion problems
3. Changes to toilet habits
4. Balance - Coordination problems
5. Concentration weakness
The human brain and body undergoes dramatic changes from birth through to the early 20s. All of these changes are exclusively under the control of the nervous system and its interaction with hormones released to govern development. In the last few years many exciting 'discoveries' have been made as to how everything is linked together, but what we know is far less than what we don't. What Chiropractic research is showingis that when proper movement is restored to the spine, the capacity of the brain to react and control the body in response to external stressors is greatly enhanced. Said another way, if the spine functions poorly, then the child will adapt less well, and development will be adversely affected. How your child learns, grows and develops is the result of his/her interaction with the environment. The more appropriate this is, the more rounded the adult they will grow up to be.
MOVEMENT STIMULATES BRAIN DEVELOPMENT
When we are born, a portion of our brain is not developed - the prefontal cortex. Full development is not complete until around 25 in males, and a little earlier in females. Why is this relevant? Let's consider some of the functions of this part of the brain:
1. Influences behaviour, self-control, social interaction
2. Is involved in rational, high-level thinking like financial and future planning
3. Plays a role in the development of memories
4. Speech, attention and learning
5. the physical coordination of your body as a reaction to the surrounding envirnment
6. movment of the limbs, especially the legs and of the spine stimulate the part of the brain dedicated to balance and coordination. This is turn stimulates the prefontal cortex and its development. Since boys and girls have different circulating hormones, the need for movement is especially vital for boys. An example of how this plays out is linked to the explosion in diagnoses of ADHD / ADHD and similar behavioural conditions. It would be wrong to say this is the only cause, since diet, childhood medications are also linked to behavioural conditions, however movement is almost always incorporated into treatment for these children. Many of these symptoms only show themselves after a year or so at school, since the requirement to control one's behaviour, focus on specific activities for long periods, and obey rules clashes with the behaviour they have got used to until this point. The child may interact poorly with others, make risky decisions, exhibit speech problems and struggle with technical subjects like maths. As with most problems, discovering and treating before anything develops is always preferable.
The spine when viewed from behind should be straight. If it curves to either or both sides to a signifcant degree then the term Scoliosis is used.based on x-rays we've seen, it's fiar to say that almost everyone has slight sideways curvature, but not large enough to be diagnosed as a scoliosis.
One of the most common times for it to develop is during puberty, known then as Idiopathic Adolescent Scoliosis. The term idopathic here is important as it means of unknown origin. A strong opinion within chiropractic is that the growth rates of the various structures varies, meaning that either the muscles or bones, or tendons or ligaments create a lateral pull as they differently increase their length. Since there are many growth spurts that occu during puberty, these are the times when the risk is highest for these imbalances to show up. Since chiropractic achieves 2 things: normalisation of spine movement and improvement in brain / body communication, it is hopefully clear why we see chiropractic as an important part of this time of life.
Chiropractic is NOT a treatment to straighten the spine, rather a treatment to maximise and normalise function so that the body functions as good as it can, and has a greater chance to restore and maintain balance by itself.
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CHIROPRACTIC LOUNGE MUNICH | Robert Kastenberger and Craig Osborne DC (NZCC)
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Chiropractic and Children - do they go together?
Yes of course, 100%. By the age of 5 it's estimated that every child will have had around 3,500 small falls, bumbs or minor accidents. Whther it's just from learning to walk, or bike, each of these events can cause misalignments to occur that may not be painful. Children do have a higher tolerance for pain (the brain is wired differently at this age), so tend not to complain of pain at younger ages.
For this reason in chiropractic often the very first stress occurs during birth itself, which is then added to during these early years, without showing up as a painful condition, but may play a significant role in affecting the normal emotional and physical development of the child.
A child may not need chiropractic care immediately, however an examination to check this out is something we cannot recommend strongly enough.
Are the bones of children too soft for Chiropractic care?
Together we have learnt a range of different techniques, but even the most traditional of techniques are by definition gentle. This comes down to the speed of the applied adjustmen:, the faster it is applied the softer it is. Having said this, in small children the adult joint structures do not exist, and for this reason other techniques are often applied which may just involve held pressure, or what looks like a form of stretching.In babies especially our understanding is that the part of the brain that in adults reacts to a 'normal' adjustment is not yet developed, for this reason we use other techniques.
Chiropractic prinicples remain valid in the no medication, injections or other invasive techniques are applied.
From what age is chiropractic possible?
The most important thing is to consider having your child checked regularly, without any known symptom or illness presenting itself. Most misalignments in the spine are themselves without pain, even in adults.
The birth process itself, even if considered normal can put significant stress in the neck and pelvis. If for any reason interventions have been used, like forceps, or suction, or if a C-section was performed, we recommend that a child be checked as soon as possible after birth. This literally means a child could be checked within seconds of birth, there is no need to wait weeks. There does tend to be a delay until it can be organised, but as soon as possible we look forward to seeing you.
Just to remind you, the treatment with babies is mostly with finger pressure, or with methods that look like stretching. There are no typical chiropractic adjustmenst used.
How often should my child be examined?
In the first year of life, due to so many important growth and developmental changes, at a minimum once per month. Every 2 weeks would be even better, this is also in the absence of observable problems.
Obviously different recommendations may be given in the event of particular concerns.
Common Problems in Children & Chiropractic
Ear Infections / Pain / Ottitis Media:
Children often complain of ear pain, and are often frequently treated with antibiotics to no avail. The upper vertebra in the spine are linked closely to the nerve supply to the ears, and chiropractic care especially in this area can be highly beneficial in the improvement of these problems.
Weak Immune System / Coughs & Colds :
The upper neck is also a vital area in relation to the head and the nerves supplying the nose, mouth, sinuses and mucous membranes. The nervous system and the immune system should also be considered one system. So that better spinal function resulting in better nerve function also leads to a strengthened immune system better able to fight off bacteria and infections.
Misalignments / Limited exercise / Uneven stressors:
- How heavy is the school bag of your child?
- How many hours does your child spend sitting?
- How many hours is your child active, not just in sport?
- How many hours a day does your child use a smart device / watch TV?
Unfortunately too many children are significantly inactive. This is not just a social problem, but limits their potential to develop their fitness for life, as well reducing the potential for normal brain development. The question for you is what makes sense: to wait until a problem rears its ugly head, or to have the child checked regularly to make sure that everything is indeed ok?
The control of most of the digestive organs is over the Vagus nerve, part of the autonomic nervous system. Chiropractic care has been shown to normalise the overall balance in how this system works, improving the potential for your body to function with ease and without many of these digestive disturbances.
Physical growth puts enormous strain on the many different structure of the body. As discussed in 'Scoliosis' if these growth rates are out of balance then various problems may occur. Optimising spinal function allows the brain / body connection to better control these growth spurts.
Learning and Concentration Difficulties:
Perhaps the most important spinal area in this regard is the upper neck, espcially given its close proximity to many of the functions that occur in the skull. Additionally we've also talked about how better movment improves brain function overall.
Coordination & Balance Problems:
For your brain to know where your body is in space, and to react appropriately to stop you from falling over, the correct exchange of information around your body is vita. Malpositions / subluxations of the spine limit the potential collection of information used by your brain for balance, and chiropractic care is highly effective at helping to restore to normal. This is as true for adults as it is for children. A dislike for sport can be a sign that the child innately recognises a weakness in this matter.
Mostly sports injuries affect the soft tissues, like muscle tendons and ligaments. These tissues are the mens by which your brain controls body movement. So the joints become involved in the injury even if not directly injured themselves.
Most treatment assess for gross injury or damage, and not the subtle changes that we seek in Chiropractic. The result is that many athletes 'heal' but are at higher risk for further inury because of the untreated misalignments in the background. Pre-existing subluxations / coordination issues may have contributed to the injury occuring in the first place.
Headache / Migraine:
A saddening number of children suffer with recurrent headache or migraine. While there are many possible causes, for many the problem lies with poor posture, and misalignment in the upper neck and occiput.
A common opinion is that fluid pressure in the skull is often responsible for migraines. Healthy movement of the sacrum at the base of the spine is vital for normal fluid pressure in the brain, so misalignments in the pelvis may also be a contributing factor.
Jaw / TMJ Dysfunction:
The jaw is loaded with many stresses during growth, easily attestable given the number of children seeking corrective treatment from their dentist. The jaw and the upper neck are closely related in function and can also be assessed in tandem with chiropractic. Checking for correct alignment here can also be very helpful in combination with any dental work being done, especially as many children complain of tension headaches during this time.
Competency In Treatment of Children
Craig Osborne and Robert Kastenberger have completed multiple courses in the treatment of the paediatic patient. Along with many years experience, Robert is also the proud father of 3 healthy children.
Rest assured that the techniques used for babies and children are appropriate for their age, size and needs, and are not just a down-scaled version of an adult adjustment.