Imagine how you communicate your pain to another person. It’s simple, you tell them or show them that you are in pain. Now think about how an infant or child can communicate their pain with you. The most obvious form is through crying. However, because children cry for a number of reasons, it is easy to assume they are hungry or simply fatigued. So how do you know when it is something more?
Early Causes of Back Pain
We all face early challenges to our musculoskeletal systems, the most extreme being the birthing process and learning how to walk. From then on we are in school, sitting in desks that were standardized for a “one size fits all” body type and carrying backpacks twice our weight. In fact, it is reported that at least 20% of adolescents experience lower back pain, which increases every year. All of these factors cause strain on our spine, making children subject to early developmental issues that without treatment, can exert a lifetime influence.
The most common pediatric disorders are ear infections (otitis media), uncontrollable crying (infantile colic), wetting the bed (nocturnal enuresis) and asthma. Most parents seek medical treatment for these conditions, which can often result in prescribing antibiotics. However, antibiotics have questionable effectiveness, not to mention side effects which prompt more parents to seek alternative forms of treatment, chiropractic care being the most popular.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that in 2012, 3.1% or about two million children received chiropractic care. Infants are most often treated for trouble nursing or sleeping, persistent ear infections or reflux problems. Many adolescents have similar problems in addition to increased lower back, neck and shoulder pain. For treatment, chiropractors use high-velocity, low-amplitude manipulation, such as light thumb pressure to the spine, to both calm and ease the pain.
Is Spinal Manipulation Safe for Children?
Although spinal “straightening” and manipulation in children has been around since 1727, there are still many who question the benefits of chiropractic care in children. Most parents claim to see an improvement in overall wellness but many people still question safety of chiropractic care for children. A research study taking place within 2002-2004 recorded the results of 781 pediatric patients under the age of three (73.5% under three weeks) who received 5,242 treatments and found no serious effects. The only minor effects reported were crying and interrupted sleep. The American Chiropractic Association also points to research leaning towards chiropractic care for children as “safe and effective for a variety of pediatric conditions.”
Our message for all chiropractic care is emphasizing the importance in early detection and prevention. So often with patients we find ourselves asking, “what if you had treated this problem earlier?” And so many wish that they had. Many patients also end up bringing their families in for chiropractic care once they begin treatments. They recognize the pain they can prevent for their children in the future. It is never too late, or too early, to begin the journey toward optimal health.