This was a great week. An old friend and patient had her first child. That in and of itself is always a special occasion. Shortly after she called to tell me of the new arrival I headed to the hospital to meet him.
When I arrived to see the newborn baby, (His name is Max. Isn’t that a great name?) my friend asked me to check the baby’s spine. Yes! This is everything I work for! This is my mission turned into reality! Yes! One by one, parents are hearing our message! One by one, I have earned their trust so that they allow me to check the spine and nervous system of their most valuable and precious gift they have! Yes!! Every single time that I am presented with the honor of adjusting a newborn I am insanely excited and humbled!! Every single time.
“Why?” You ask?? Why do I get such a thrill from adjusting an infant...a newborn even though I am fortunate enough to do this regularly?
Whew...where to begin that explanation?
Well, let’s use Baby Max as an example. His mom was in labor for 36 hours. She was pushing for three of those hours. A long, hard delivery for both of them. Of course there was the usual twisting and turning and pulling that doctors do to extract the baby. While this is the norm, it is difficult on the newborn.
The first thing I did when I checked baby Max was to have Mom lay him, with his head away from her, on her lap. This way I could get above his head so I could feel the tiny vertebrae and muscles in his neck. Max’s 1st cervical vertebrae was out of place to the right. First, I gently caressed his checks with my thumbs so he could feel sensation and security. I checked the cervical area with my fingers. Then I gingerly adjusted the bone that was out of place and soothed the muscles surrounding it. The amount of pressure needed to adjust a newborn and small child is the same as the amount of pressure one would use to test the ripeness of a tomato. It is very little.
In my experience the upper two cervical vertebrae, also know as C1 and C2, are very often out of line in newborns. Actually, The American Medical Association did research that shows that 84 percent of newborns have upper cervical misalignments. One of the reasons I get so excited to adjust a newborn is the C2. So many children come to me later in life, say 2, 3 or 4 years old, with chronic ear infections and are scheduled to have “tubes” surgically put into their ears. Thank goodness they have heard through the rumor mill that chiropractic can help kids with ear infections. And we do! Let me explain.
The nervous system/spinal cord runs through the spine. The nerves carrying the message to all the body’s organs come out between the 24 bones in the spine. If the bone is out of its correct position, then the message is getting blocked off. One hundred percent of the operations manual for the ear cannot get to the intended organ. In the case of a C1 or C2 misalignment, the messages going to the ear ducts are not getting through. The drainage system is not working right.
Reason #1 of why I love to adjust a newborn! I get so excited to adjust a newborn because if I correct that C2s position at this early stage….the wonderful little innocent, healthy baby will not have to endure the dreaded ear infections and will not need all those antibiotics and medication given to such small little people. (My children and many others under chiropractic care have NEVER had an ear infection. Never.)
The second step in checking the spine of Baby Max was to have his Mom lift and hold him up against her chest. Now I could get behind him and check the rest of his spine as well as his hip joint. The spine looks and feels good. Straight, spaced nicely. Healthy. Yes! I love that !
I feel his hips for motion. Max’s right hip is not moving as well as the left hip. It is restricted. Again, gently I move the hip bones to their correct position. Recheck. Better, but I want to check that again in a week, I tell his mom. She’ll call the office when they get home, she says.
Let me explain why this is so important.
Imagine you are on the Schuylkill River for a day of canoeing with your family. As you travel down steam you come upon a canoe that has two people rowing, but they are going around and around in a circle. As you examine the situation further, you see the guy in the front is a hulking mass of athlete while in the back is another large fellow, but this one has his left arm in a sling and cannot use it. The rower in front is overworking and over pulling the canoe. The boat is forced to curve to one side.
The same is true of the hip joint. If the one side of Max’s hip that had more motion were left to continue in this way, he would continue to pull on the other side which in turn pulls the spine and can start to create an arch or a curve like an archers bow. This is often the on set of Scoliosis.
Reason #2 why I get all psyched up about the invitation to adjust a newborn...to ensure this never happens to a child. Since chiropractic can help at this stage there will never be a conversation 7 or 10 years from now about a steel rod in his back because he has Scoliosis! I cannot tell you how much it upsets me to hear about a child having to undergo such “treatment.”
Obviously each and every newborn is unique. Sometimes there is a vertebrae out of place in the upper back or thoracic area. This area houses the nerves that control the lungs. Maybe the vertebrae in the lower spine known, as the Lumbar, is out of alignment. This area has nervous system communication to the intestines.
Some problems are more common than others but all are so easily corrected at this early, early stage.
So I wrapped up my visit with Max and his parents with a pat on his back and hug of gratitude to his folks for allowing me to set this boy up on a healthy road.
Yes! I love what I do!
That’s all for this week, Folks.
Dr. Jim Schaffer of Kimberton Chiropractic Center, Phoenixville, is a weekly contributor to The Phoenix.
Dr Jim Schaffer