The carefree days of childhood don’t necessarily ensure that kids won’t suffer from the same injuries, aches and pains as adults. In fact, chiropractors commonly treat children suffering from back pain, neck pain and other symptoms stemming from sprains, strains and blockages. It’s not uncommon for parents to discover that certain health and behavioral issues impacting their children are actually the results of subluxations. Of course, that doesn’t mean that treating subluxations is a cure-all for childhood health issues. It just means that parents should be aware of the connection between spinal health and overall health in children.
What Is a Subluxation?
First, it’s important to know what we’re talking about when referring to a childhood subluxation. A subluxation is any form of interference within the spinal nerves. These “blockages” block signals within the spinal nerves that are vital to the central nervous system. As a result, important messages linking the brain and body are blocked. In addition to causing pain and discomfort, subluxations can actually activate stress signals within the body that cause inflammation and agitation.
How Common Are Subluxations in Children?
While we commonly associate back and neck pain with getting older, children are particularly vulnerable to subluxations. First, children are in a state of rapid growth and development while also being in a heightened season of exploring the world! That means that they’re experiencing lots of falls and bumps as their bodies are in constant states of change. Additionally, long hours spent learning in a desk can also put pressure on the spine. Researches have singled out learning workstations as contributors to musculoskeletal pain in school-aged children. Here’s a glance at the common signs of subluxations in kids:
- Lethargy and fatigue.
- Poor mood.
- Poor concentration.
- A tendency to be easily distracted.
- A lowered immune system.
- Heightened allergies.
- Complaints of headaches.
- Complaints of back pain.
- Restricted spinal movement.
- Poor posture.
- Sleep issues.
Subluxation symptoms can overlap with symptoms from a wide variety of other issues. This is why it’s important for parents to avoid the temptation to self-diagnose their children. If you suspect that your child may be suffering from a subluxation, it’s so important to have your child evaluated by a chiropractor. There are very specific diagnostic techniques that allow chiropractors to gently and effectively spot a subluxation.
Can Some People Have Subluxations From Birth?
Yes, it is possible to be born with a subluxation due to the intensity of the childbirth experience. In fact, many parents who simply assume that their children have been born with specific health conditions may be unaware that a subluxation that occurred during birth is actually the culprit. During labor, the pushing that a mother does can very easily harm a baby’s neck and spine as the baby is moved through the birth canal. It is also very common for doctors to use “pulling” motions and other interventions in the last stages of the birthing process that can put strain on the baby’s joints and nerves. This is often seen when forceps are used to aid with a delivery. While subluxations can occur during any labor, labors that are more difficult or traumatic are more likely to produce subluxations.
Unfortunately, babies cannot verbally tell us if they are feeling pain or discomfort. However, parents who are on the lookout for telltale signs of subluxations or nerve issues can sometimes read the silent cues that their babies are giving off. When joints are not properly aligned with nerve signals, you may observe that a baby is compensating with some subtle actions. For instance, a baby with a preference to nurse on one side may actually be suffering from a subluxation. Some babies who have difficulty with latching may also be suffering from a limited range of motion due to missed nerve signals. While there are other possible causes for these actions, it’s worth considering that a subluxation could be in play if you observe your baby having any difficulties with getting through nursing or sleeping milestones in those first few weeks. It’s not uncommon for parents to have their newborns checked just days or hours following birth to ensure that everything is aligned properly. Doing so can be critical for establishing breastfeeding for some mothers and newborns. Here are some common signs of subluxations in babies:
- Recurrent earaches.
- Inability to crawl.
- Poor gait.
- Poor coordination.
One of the most frustrating and bewildering situations new parents can find themselves in is caring for an infant who is prone to unexplained bouts of crying that cannot be resolved with soothing techniques. For many parents, chiropractic intervention may be the route to ending the frequent, prolonged crying sessions that are common with colic. In one study from 2012, chiropractic manual therapy improved crying behavior in infants with colic.
As a parent, it’s natural to wonder if chiropractic adjustments are actually safe for newborns. When treating infants, chiropractors do not use the same techniques that are used on older children or adults. The frailty and softness of an infant’s bones and cartilage are given primary consideration as chiropractors implement very gentle, subtle techniques for correcting subluxations. This involves applying very light pressure over the direct area of the subluxation until the bone is moved back into the proper position. Additionally, some very light therapeutic massage may be used to help to loosen up tight muscles around the affected area.
Will Childhood Subluxations Resolve on Their Own?
Subluxations that occur during infancy and childhood aren’t things that we simply outgrow. In fact, these underlying blockages can actually grow worse as we get older due to the fact that our bodies are constantly changing. Things like sports, exercise and repetitive movements done at a job can all exacerbate a subluxation that we’ve had since birth. It’s never too late to try to resolve a subluxation that was formed in your younger years. If you’re a parent who is discovering subluxations for the first time after watching your child struggle with unexplained symptoms, you may be wondering if some of your own aches, pains, digestive issues or food sensitivities could also be caused by a subluxation. The good news is that the same chiropractor who can help your child to realign their spine to remove a subluxation can also offer you the same support tailored to your specific underlying injury. This is precisely why so many families actually make chiropractic care a family wellness affair!
It’s Not Too Soon to Bring Your Child to a Chiropractor
While many parents choose to make chiropractic care a part of newborn care from the first day, there is no wrong or right age to bring your child to a chiropractor. If you’re noticing some symptoms that don’t appear to have an underlying cause, it’s important to rule out a subluxation. Even slightly older children may be suffering from undetected “birth” subluxations that are causing pain, discomfort or other issues. Chiropractic care can be especially beneficial as children go through growth spurts because rapid changes can make it easier for joints, bones and muscles to be injured. Don’t hesitate to ask a chiropractor if a subluxation could be behind the difficulties your child is experiencing.