The Spinal Column: Why would a kid need a spinal check?!

Dr. Jim Schaffer

Doctors of Chiropractic hear from parents that they appreciate the importance of regular check-ups for their child’s teeth, eyes and ears, but they draw a blank when it comes to a spinal check-up. Yet that could be one of the most important check-ups you child will ever have.

You might be surprised to learn that most adult problems chiropractors deal with actually have a start in the childhood. For example, the “growing pains’ of a 12-year-old boy can become crippling low back and leg pains in the adulthood; the “jolly jumpers” used by a toddler can cause spinal curvatures (scoliosis) in the adolescent. Your child’s spine is his or her lifeline. Running through it is the spinal cord containing billions of nerves that send messages and information from the brain to every part of the body and back again.

Yes, we all have our very own Internet! As long as none of these messages are interrupted, your child should have optimal function and the best health possible. If, however there is any interference with this ”information highway,” the message sent by the brain will not reach the part of the body it is intended to reach. As a result, the body starts to work improperly. Chiropractors call this “malfunction.” It can be a serious threat to health. This interference will often affect our immune system, which will lower body resistance and leave your child prey to various bugs and infections. Or perhaps it will affect your child’s digestive system. This can cause constipation, irritable bowel syndrome or worse, Crohn’s disease. The examples go on and on. Any function of our body can be affected...heart, lungs, sinuses, ears with symptoms such as headaches, allergies, ear infections.

Sohere is a question many parents ask when I talk to them about having their newborn adjusted as soon as they can: “How could my baby possibly need to have her spine checked? She just entered the world! It’s not as though she has been falling off her bike or wrestling with her brothers….?”

No she hasn’t been doing that, but she has been through the ringer!

One major cause of subluxations (spinal bones out of alignment) is actually the process of being brought into the world – birth. For an infant, it can be very stressful. Think about all the time she spent curled up in your belly. Perhaps her little head was squished over toward her should for the past three weeks. That is a very common position and a very common cause of vertical subluxations! Subluxations associated with birth trauma can cause hyperactivity, lowered resistance, ear infections, asthma and bed-wetting as well as signs of “central motor impairment.” According to Dr. Gutman, a German specialist, “a spinal check-up after birth should be obligatory.” As a matter of fact, certain hospitals in Australia are having chiropractic doctors check the infant spine immediately after delivery to ensure a healthy spine and nervous system, free from subluxations.

As babies get older, they are often subjected to some uncomfortable traditions: wearing tight diapers to that do not allow proper hip development; “jolly jumpers” which place and infant in an upright position long before the spine can deal with gravity and poorly designed school desks and poor mattresses, just to name a few. Then of course there is the usual process of crawling, walking and running. As your child matures, other incidents and activities can also create vertebral subluxations. For instance, falling off a bike or down stairs, hockey, football, skateboards and roller blades. These normal activities for children are great fun, but they definitely have the potential to jostle the bones out of their position.

As an example, the so-called growing pains I mentioned earlier that children often experience in their legs have traditionally been explained away as part of childhood. Worried parents hear such nonsensical statements as, “It’s nothing – they’ll grow out of it,” or my very favorite, “It is because they are growing.” Many parents tend to buy these excuses. But when we really think about it, those explanations simply do not make sense. After all, when did it ever hurt to grow? And why only the legs? Don’t the arms also grow? Why don’t they hurt?

From a chiropractic perspective, these “growing pains” become “sciatica” in adults. In other words, a vertebral subluxation in the low back is pinching the sciatic nerve, which controls the legs. These pains can also often be caused by a “functional pelvic imbalance.” In simple terms, it’s a subluxation of the pelvic bones, which then change the way a child walks. These pelvic imbalance subluxations can lead to the development of early scoliosis because the spinal column is forced to twist along with the hips that have turned (spinal curvature), knee problems and difficulty with balance. These are often the children who are wrongly labeled as “klutzy.”

If allowed to remain, subluxations are the starting point of nerve system and body malfunction. Which means different organs; glands and tissues in your body are not getting the information they need to operate as they are supposed to. And that is not good! When a subluxation has existed for some time, it will eventually produce symptoms (pain is the most common) as a warning to let you know that something is simply not okay, that there is a threat to health and well being that needs attention. It is similar to the warning sign a tooth provides when it has a cavity. We all know what that is!

One must remember that symptoms are similar to a fire alarm. They let you know that there is a fire. At this point you have a choice. You can put out the fire (correct the subluxation), or turn off the fire alarm (using medication) to make yourself feel better. Would you ignore that tooth ache if the dentist were willing to give you a drug so you didn’t feel it so much? Or would you have it fixed?

Chiropractic care is for everyone who wants to experience wellness, but is especially important for children. It can make a huge difference in their lives. Conditions easily corrected by chiropractic care at an early age are often neglected and can be carried by a child as a burden throughout a lifetime.

So...I just reread what I have written for this week and it sounds a bit strong to me. I don’t want anyone to think I am using scare tactics, but I think it is just my passion pouring out on this keyboard. I know chiropractic care for kids can not only help the kids that are dealing with IBS and Asthma but what I really, really want to do...is provide care to kids before the symptoms of asthma and ear infection, etc...take root.

I firmly believe that all children should be checked by a chiropractor to ensure a normally functioning nervous system and a healthy body. Let me know if there is any way I can help get your children to a chiropractor.

That’s it for this week folks...

Get ready for the storm!

Dr. Jim

Dr. Jim Schaffer of Kimberton Chiropractic Center located in Phoenixville, is a weekly contributor to The Phoenix. 484-921-4936 www.kimbertonchiropractic.com