By Jennifer Jensen
When their baby is unhappy or in pain, it seems as though parents will try anything to make their little one feel better. One remedy that might help, and one that many parents may not have considered, is chiropractic medicine.
Dr. David West, a fourth-generation chiropractor and owner of West Family Chiropractic, has seen many infants in their first week of life. Many of their mothers were under his care during their pregnancy to help with back pain and other issues, and wanted their infants to be evaluated right away. “The birth process can be one the most traumatic things we go through in our lives,” he said. “I feel our job is to make sure stressed joints and abnormal mechanics are corrected as early as possible in ones’ lives.” For infants, chiropractic care can help with colic, constipation, uncomfortableness in a car seat, inability to turn their heads a certain direction and feeding issues.
When an infant is brought into West’s office, he evaluates the spine and peripheral joints for normal motion and function and will make adjustments as needed. “Infants are really easy to work with and very easy to adjust the spine,” said West. “In certain regions, just the pressure from your pinky can be enough to deliver an adjustment.” In infant chiropractic care, the idea is subtle adjustments to normalize the function of the spine.
Adjustments will vary based on the practitioner, but, for example, an ear infection or cervical spine dysfunction may cause a chiropractor to consider the upper cervical spine for adjustment, and constipation issues may be due to lower lumbar or sacral functional restrictions.
Stephanie Meeks, mother of four, has taken all of her children to the chiropractor, some while they were newborns. “Adjustments have helped with behavior, allergies, feet and back pain,” she said. “Also with tightness in the jaw and mouth causing breastfeeding issues.”
Although chiropractic medicine has helped people like Meeks and her children, there is still some controversy surrounding the topic. A big driver could be because this type of thing is not “the norm,” and that most insurance companies do not cover this type of treatment, said Meeks.
Of course, while there are many supporters of chiropractic care for infants, there are also studies that put into question the efficacy and safety of chiropractic care for infants. According to a study published in the Archives of Diseases in Childhood, there is evidence to suggest that chiropractic treatment does little, if not nothing, to treat infant colic.
Whether you choose to pursue chiropractic care for your infant is up to your discretion as a parent. However, if you do decide to seek it, be sure to find a chiropractor with an excellent patient record who has extensive experience dealing with infants. Consider asking your chiropractor if he or she has received a Diplomate in Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics, which is a board-certified credential in the specialty of pediatrics and pregnancy, when doing your research.