Chiropractic for Kids
(and moms too!)
Story by Alaska Parent staff
When most people think of chiropractic care they primarily associate the practice with treating back pain, but local chiropractors say it’s about much more.
“Back pain is just 10 percent of the picture,” says Dr. Stacey Lowe of Life Family Chiropractic in Wasilla. “Chiropractic care is, in a broad sense, making sure that the body as a whole is working as well as it can. It’s adjusting the nervous system because if the body isn’t working as it should it can block the nervous system.”
Dr. Stacey sees women in all stages of pregnancy, and children, too. She’s adjusted women while in the delivery room to speed up labor and has adjusted infants 30 minutes after birth to aid them with latching on to nurse. Pregnancy puts additional strain on the body, and “a lot of women I talk to don’t feel any aches or pains until they become pregnant, and once they become pregnant there is enough of an additional stress that they start to feel pain,” she says. Besides an older injury coming to bear during pregnancy, she says that the “sacrum and pelvis need to be moveable and not stuck” so that they are able to spread during labor.
Dr. Jennifer Waldroup-Gray of Gray Chiropractic Health Clinic in Anchorage is certified in the Webster Technique, an adjustment that can aid in turning breech babies. “We don’t actually turn babies,” she says, instead practitioners certified in this method by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association adjust the mother, often working in conjunction with a midwife. “By doing an adjustment to the pelvis the baby has all the room it needs to just flip on around,” she says.
Once a newborn has passed through the narrow birth canal, Dr. Jen says it’s important “to make sure the baby came out okay. In babies that are breech or lying transverse, it really throws the neck off. And the birth process has a lot to do with it depending if there’s any pulling, twisting or torquing of the baby’s head during delivery.”
Delivery via a Cesarean section can cause undue strain on a newborn. “When babies are born by c-section, there is usually some stress to begin with,” explains Dr. Stacey. She says that passing through the birth canal is designed to massage the baby naturally, but “with c-section they will not get that.”
Dr. Jen encourages new moms to visit her office “as soon as they can lay flat on their stomach,” she says. “It’s important to make sure the pelvis wasn’t thrown out of position and to make sure that the bones are lined up correctly.”
FROM DAY ONE
Babies and children come to her office for the general ailments of childhood, like digestive difficulties among infants, or sports-related injuries in older kids. “The majority of kids that come in are coming in with nutrition issues – whether they are latching on, if they have reflux, or if they are constipated,” she describes. “With babies it’s very obvious that there’s something not working right – they eat, sleep, pee and poop so when they’re fussing there’s something obvious going on.”
Most pediatric chiropractors have a thorough understanding of nutrition, says Dr. Jessica Dachowski of Whole Family Chiropractic in Anchorage. “They can offer nutritional adjustments that often help eliminate food and other allergies,” she says. “They also can assist with the proper order and timing in which food, meaning anything other than breast milk, should be introduced to an infant.”
A typical chiropractic appointment for a baby or a child starts with a simple visual exam of the child, and then moves on to gentle fingertip palpitations around the spine and neck. Dr. Jen describes what parents can expect when they bring in their infants for an appointment: “I do a quick examination on them, a range of motion, I check all the joints to make sure I don’t hear any clicking or grinding. The spine is a series of joints and I check for anything that isn’t moving well with finger palpitations. If the baby is more comfortable sleeping on one side than the other it could be an indication of a malposition of a joint,” she explains. “One thing I always look for is if the baby prefers to nurse on one side rather than the other; that could indicate that turning the head may be painful.”
Many common early childhood maladies, including earaches and ear infections, also can be alleviated through chiropractic care, notes Dr. Jessica. “Especially those that are chronic or multiple,” she says. “Improving nervous system connectivity through chiropractic care can often help children who are candidates for surgical intervention such as ear canal tympanostomy tubes.”
A chiropractic appointment for an infant or toddler is far from being a traumatic event. Dr. Jen demonstrates everything on a doll she keeps in her office, walking the parents through each step of the exam, while telling them that “it’s very low-force, there’s no need to get aggressive with a newborn, infant or toddler.”
No matter a patient’s age, these doctors encourage everyone to make chiropractics a part of a healthy lifestyle. “Getting the spine adjusted should be just as important as exercising and eating well,” recommends Dr. Jen, while Dr. Stacey says of lifelong chiropractic care: “The best way I can say it is to make sure that your body is working well from day one.”