How can I tell that my child should have their spine checked by a chiropractor?
There are many indications that a child should be checked by a chiropractor that a parent or health care provider can identify. Those include:
- One shoulder appearing higher than the other when the child is standing
- One leg appearing longer than the other when the child is lying down
- “Toeing in” or “toeing out”
- Following a car accident, fall, or sports injury
- Persistent headaches or ear infections
- Being more comfortable sleeping with several pillows stacked under their head
- A diagnosis of “growing pains” or scoliosis
- Stiffness of movement during sports or play
- Neck or back pain from carrying backpacks
- Not able to turn their head as far to one side as the other, or holding their head tilted
- Urge to “crack” their neck or back themselves
Is chiropractic care safe?
Chiropractic care has been repeatedly demonstrated as an effective, conservative health care option. In 1995, Harvard Medical School and the Department of Medicine at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston presented information on the treatment of low back and neck pain. While anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advil and Aleve caused serious stomach bleeding in 1 out of every 1000 people, complications from chiropractic adjusting for low back pain was reported in 1 out of every 100 million visits. They also found that people who underwent neck surgery were left with neurological problems an average of 1 time in every 63 surgeries, while chiropractic adjusting had a rate of one in a million – making chiropractic care approximately 16,000 times safer than neck surgery.
Additionally, a 2003 study on children with low back pain concluded that children “responded favorably to chiropractic management, and there were no reported complications.”
Because of the statistically significant safety of chiropractic adjusting, chiropractors have malpractice insurance rates that are a fraction – sometimes over 100 times lower - than practitioners in other specialties.
Is chiropractic care safe for children?
Chiropractic care has been repeatedly demonstrated as an effective, conservative health care option. A 1998 study in the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research demonstrated that between 1966-1977 over half a billion chiropractic adjustments were given to children, with adverse reactions happening one time in every 250 million adjustments. Comparatively, a child in that time period had a better chance of being struck by lightening, having an adverse reaction to Tylenol or other painkillers, or having complications following a flu vaccination.
Additionally, a 2003 study on children with low back pain concluded that children “responded favorably to chiropractic management, and there were no reported complications.”
Because of the statistically significant safety of chiropractic adjusting, chiropractors have malpractice insurance rates that are a fraction of practitioners in other specialties, including both pediatricians and obstetricians.
Why would an infant need to have its spine checked by a chiropractor?
Many mothers can tell you the difficulty of the birth process from their perspective, but it is also a physically demanding process for the infant. The baby’s neck may be pulled and twisted, shoulders may get caught and squeezed – all affecting their cervical and thoracic spine – especially in difficult births. Even for women who have a c-section, the force required to birth the baby through this procedure may require considerable strain on spinal structures of the infant.
In the scientific journal Manuelle Medizin, researchers examined 1,250 infants five days after birth, and discovered that 25% were suffering from vomiting, irritability and sleeplessness. Examination showed that 75% of these infants had cervical (neck) strain, and that treatment for their neck problems often resulted in immediate relief of their irritability. Signs of spinal strain that parent or pediatrician might notice include: persistent tilting of the head, preferring to only turn the head to one side, a diagnosis of torticollis, or one leg appearing to be longer or stiffer than the other. Chiropractors have gentle, soft-contact techniques to correct these problems in their littlest patients.
I am concerned about the side effects of arthritis and chronic pain medications since hearing the news about medications like Celebrex creating an increased risk of strokes and heart attacks, or ones like Vicodan and OxyContin causing addition. At Marion Family Chiropractic, can you help people who have been told they have spinal arthritis or degenerated discs?
Many people with back or neck pain have been told they have arthritis or degenerated discs, and often that they will have to live with the pain. Both are ongoing processes where joints are closing and becoming less functional, resulting in greater nerve impingement as the degeneration advances.
It is important that people diagnosed with arthritis or degenerated discs have a chiropractic evaluation. Chiropractic care can halt the progress of these conditions by improving biomechanics, as well as aligning the vertebrae to take pressure off the nerves. This relieves pain and muscle tension, and addresses the cause of the problem. Pain medications cover the discomfort, but do not address the degenerative process. As has been highlighted recently with the recall of Vioxx, they also put the user at risk of the various side effects associated with medication use.
At Marion Family Chiropractic, individuals receive comprehensive evaluations, and care plans are created to address each person’s individual challenges. Both doctors are trained in a variety of gentle, specific techniques that allow them to address difficult cases comfortably. Many of their patients are now living pain and medication free with chiropractic care, even if they had diagnoses of spinal arthritis or degenerated discs.
I have heard that chiropractic care can help immune system function by enhancing our bodies’ natural processes. What evidence supports this?
There is a growing body of evidence that demonstrates how chiropractic care boosts immune system function. Researchers reported a rise in white blood cells – those cells that fight infection in our bodies - following chiropractic adjusting in Journal of Manipulative Therapeutics, “priming” our bodies to fight the infections we’re all exposed to daily this time of year. Additionally, last year European Journal of Chiropractic reported a long-term rise in immunoglobulin levels – critical for proper immune system function - for people who had undergone chiropractic care.
In terms of specific conditions for various groups, published studies include a 93% improvement rate for children with ear infections who were adjusted by chiropractors; in the 1990’s, a pilot study that CD4 cells were increased 48% in HIV+ patients; and another showed a greater rate of improvement for elderly patients with acute pneumonia who were being adjusted as a part of their overall care.
I came to your office to get rid of the pain between my shoulder blades. When that pain went away, why did my acid reflux go away also?
As chiropractors, we work with removing interference to nerves. A ‘pinched’ nerve between your shoulder blades can cause pain and muscle tension, but only about 10% of nerve fibers transmit pain. The remaining 90% of nerves from that area transmit impulses for other reasons. This includes controlling stomach functions such as muscle contraction during digestion and secreting stomach acid.
When we remove interference to the nerves between your shoulder blades, you feel better because the nerves are no longer irritated. Additionally, those nerves that run to the stomach also aren’t irritated anymore, allowing for proper function – including allowing your body to secrete the right amount of stomach acid, resulting in natural resolution to acid reflux.
Why is it important to have my spine checked by a chiropractor after a car accident or major fall, even if I’ve gone to the ER and they say just to take muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatories until I feel better?
According to the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2000, joints – such as those of the spine - that undergo a trauma such as a car accident, fall, or sports injury have a much greater chance for developing arthritis decades later. Researchers reported in the journal Clinical Orthopedics that, “restoring joint congruity, alignment, and stability” is critical to preventing this post-traumatic arthritis. Additionally, dysfunctional joints can result in chronic spinal pain or headaches for decades after the accident because joint congruity and alignment are not addressed by muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatories.
At Marion Family Chiropractic, our specific approach to chiropractic care gently aligns the spine and restores proper function to each joint for children and adults who have gone through a spinal trauma. This helps to prevent the various spinal problems that could otherwise develop.
I was told my child has scoliosis following a screening at school. What are the dangers of scoliosis, and what can a chiropractor do to help my child?
Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine that often develops in a child’s growing years. According to the scientific journal Spine, children and adolescents with slight scoliosis have disturbances with postural equilibrium, causing a lack of normal feedback from their muscles. If a scoliosis progresses to an advanced stage, there can be pressure on internal organs such as the lungs and heart, impairing their function. It is widely agreed that chiropractors are well-equipped to work with children with scoliosis. Last fall, researchers reported in Musculoskeletal Disorders that the “use of spinal manipulation appeared to significantly reduce the severity of [scoliosis] in all subjects.” Chiropractic care is a conservative, non-invasive option for parents who are concerned about a child’s scoliosis.
How efficient is chiropractic care in taking care of low back pain?
Recently, two significant studies showed the effectiveness and cost efficiency of chiropractic care for back pain. In November 2004, the British Medical Journal published a study assessing “quality of life” and cost effectiveness for people with low back pain who used chiropractic care as part of their treatment. Chiropractic care was found to be so effective that the researchers recommended to the British government that the addition of spinal “manipulation alone would probably be the best strategy” for low back pain cases in their health care system.
In the United States, a study published in October 2004 in the Annals of Internal Medicine analyzed treatment of back pain in people with private insurance coverage. They concluded that “Back pain patients with coverage of chiropractic had a 41 percent reduction in hospitalizations for back pain, a 37 percent reduction in MRI scans, a 23 percent reduction in the use of X-rays, and a 32 percent reduction in the incidence of back surgery, compared to back pain patients who did not have chiropractic insurance coverage.”
I am a senior suffering with osteoarthritis in my neck and back. How did this develop, and is there any way to prevent arthritis in my children and grandchildren?
Contrary to what some people believe, osteoarthritis isn’t simply a natural part of aging. According to the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2000, joints – such as those of the spine - that undergo a trauma such as a sports injury, fall, or car accident early in life have a much greater chance for developing arthritis decades later as that person enters their senior years. The authors of the study go on to say that these young people “should be targeted in the primary prevention of osteoarthritis.”
According to the scientific journal Clinical Orthopedics, “restoring joint congruity, alignment, and stability” is critical to preventing this post-traumatic arthritis. At Marion Family Chiropractic, our specific approach to chiropractic care gently aligns the spine and restores proper function to each joint in children and young adults who have gone through a spinal trauma. This helps to prevent the post-traumatic arthritis that could otherwise develop decades down the road. If a child or young person has undergone a sports injury, accident, or trauma to the head, neck, or back in their lifetime, it is important that they have a chiropractor check their spine for alignment and joint function.
How can chiropractic care help someone to have a more comfortable pregnancy and birth?
Gentle, specific chiropractic care has been demonstrated repeatedly as safe and effective for more comfortable pregnancies and births, benefiting both the health of the mother and baby. For many women, low back pain and pregnancy are synonymous, with as many as 70% of women experiencing low back pain during their pregnancy. In 1991, a study from the Rochester School of Medicine demonstrated chiropractic adjustments to the sacroiliac area was 91% effective in relieving back pain during pregnancy.
Proper alignment of the pelvic bones - which affects tension on ligaments that attach from those bones to the uterus – explains results that show an 82% rate of breech babies turning following chiropractors’ use of the Webster Technique. This technique gently allows a maximum amount of room for the baby to move while in utero. Proper alignment of these bones also gives optimal space for the baby to pass through the birth canal during labor, which is a critical consideration for both the mother and infant.
How do chiropractors change what they do to work with seniors?
With any chiropractic patient, an individual plan of care is created that will work best for that person. With seniors, it is especially important to consider factors such as osteoporosis, degenerated discs, arthritis, and other changes that their spine has undergone in their lifetime. Often, in addition to the aging process, people’s spines may have changes from a lifetime of use, old injuries, or past surgeries.
Each person undergoes a thorough spinal analysis, and with seniors, often gentle techniques are chosen to carefully relieve pressure from nerves in a comfortable, non-invasive way.
With more and more seniors concerned about the numbers of mediations they are taking, chiropractic care is a safe, natural way to improve their health and get relief without having to rely on more medications.
Does chiropractic care help migraines, and what does that have to do with the Red Sox winning the World Series?
In the first round of the American League playoffs, the Red Sox were playing the Anaheim Angels. Johnny Damon, the Red Sox centerfielder and leadoff hitter, was struggling through a bout of migraine headaches when the team was in California. Fearing his ability to play would be diminished due to the migraines, prior to their third game in that series, he found a chiropractor who adjusted him. His migraines did not return throughout the rest of the playoffs. After sweeping through the Angels series, Damon went on to hit two home runs – including a grand slam – in the final game against the Yankees to put the Red Sox in the World Series.
Johnny Damon’s experience with chiropractic care and migraines is supported in current research. A study from Australasian Chiropractic and Osteopathy in 1997 found a 90% reduction in migraine episodes and length of each migraine was reduced by 38% with chiropractic adjusting, and a 1998 study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics concluded that “chiropractic reduced the severity and frequency of headaches as well or better” than drug therapy for migraines at each stage of the study.
How does a chiropractor’s education compare to a medical doctor’s?
In the United States, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research compared the classroom and clinical education for chiropractors and medical doctors. Upon successful completion of undergraduate studies, chiropractic and medical students both enter a 4-5 year academic program, which is similar in content. Both must also pass a series of national and state board examinations, and complete continuing education each year.
Interestingly, there are many areas where chiropractic schools require more training than medical schools. Those areas include anatomy, orthopedics, diagnosis, neurology, microbiology, and radiology. Chiropractic schools, on average, require 200-300 more hours of training than medical schools.
Do our national guidelines for health care endorse chiropractic care?
Yes. There have been a number of large investigations conducted on chiropractic by the American, Canadian, New Zealand, Swedish, British and Australian governments over the last few decades. In all cases, their findings have supported the effectiveness and efficacy of chiropractic care.
The 1994 Agency for Health Care Policy and Research Study from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggested that chiropractic care was a conservative and safe treatment for many low-back conditions and should be utilized prior to any surgical interventions in most cases. Canada's 1993 Manga Report strongly recommended chiropractic care over medical care for the treatment and management of most low-back conditions. The advisory groups for those studies included health professionals from a wide variety of fields, including medical doctors, chiropractors, and psychologists.
Can I go to a chiropractor if I have had previous back or neck surgery?
According to the Association of Neurological Surgeons and Congress of Neurological Surgeons, approximately 1 in 20 people who undergo surgery for herniated or degenerated discs in their low back will go on to experience “severe and incapacitating” pain. Still, many people opt for back or neck surgery, although WebMD advises that in 96% of cases, conservative care – including chiropractic care – is preferable to surgery.
If someone has chosen to undergo back or neck surgery and still has problems, it is safe for them to pursue chiropractic care as an option for relief. There are many gentle techniques that can help to relieve pressure on nerves. Because of the biomechanical relationship throughout the spine, chiropractors can also work around the area of surgery to take pressure off the entire spine. Often people who have had previous surgery find relief with chiropractic care.
How can women who are chiropractors be strong enough to adjust some of the large men you see at Marion Family Chiropractic?
Contrary to popular belief, chiropractic adjusting is more about technique than strength. To adjust a vertebrae that is out of place, little force is often required if the chiropractor has excellent technique and a thorough analysis of the misalignment they are working to correct.
Additionally, many chiropractic techniques are specifically designed to be low-force to work with people who require more gentle care. People including infants and seniors with osteoporosis can be safely, comfortably adjusted in a way that effectively corrects their misalignments.
For a chiropractor to adjust someone who is significantly bigger than they are, it requires the same specificity as any other group of people we see.
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