A growing number of families in the U.S.-both parents and children-are discovering the benefits of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), including chiropractic care. The good news is that you're never too young or too old to benefit from the types of therapies a skilled chiropractic physician can provide. Today's chiropractors generally have the training and experience to work with patients from early childhood through to advanced age. However, some practitioners also choose to focus on the unique needs of specific types of patients.
How Children May Benefit From Chiropractic Care
As children enter school and begin interacting more with other kids in a different setting, they become susceptible to having their spine and nervous system compromised. From poor sitting posture in the classroom to heavy backpacks in the hallways and rough-housing on the playground, there are a variety of new health risks. Chiropractic care can help address these sorts of risks as well as others that may seem less obvious.
For instance, there is evidence that chiropractic care may help prevent or relieve many common cold and allergy symptoms, including sneezing, coughing and itching or watery eyes. This is not to say that a visit to the chiropractor will "cure" the common cold or that the underlying illness will be eliminated, even temporarily. However, the research suggests that spinal manipulation and other therapies frequently used by the chiropractor may help to strengthen a child's immune system over time.
Chiropractic treatments are tailored to every child according to their specific circumstances, including their height and weight. There is no minimum age and even newborns may safely benefit. In fact, chiropractic care is encouraged for babies as a chiropractic physician may be able to detect spinal problems that could lead to colic, ear infection or asthma. Early detection may help prevent the development of these conditions and other complications while improving a young patient's quality of life.
Communicating with Members of Your Child's Healthcare Team
As both adults and children are turning to alternative medicine as a way to prevent or treat common ailments, there is an increasing need for patients (or their parents) to communicate effectively with members of an expanded healthcare team. In most cases, your child's primary care doctor (usually a pediatrician, general practitioner or chiropractic physician) will play a key role in coordinating care. Remember that a good chiropractor will always tell you when a particular condition may be outside his or her scope of practice and will refer you to other specialists as appropriate.
Many chiropractors who specialize in pediatrics are members of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) and have attended postgraduate courses that focus on the care of pregnant mothers, infants and children. The ICPA is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1986 by Larry Webster, DC. The association offers advanced training workshops and seminars for healthcare professionals, in addition to its chiropractic certification. It also has a referral service for parents and publishes a wide variety of materials designed to educate the general public about chiropractic medicine for children and adults.
Studies have shown that children who visit the chiropractor on a regular basis are likely to grow up with better posture and have fewer illnesses than their classmates.