Hands-on Healing: Chiropractors for Kids
More and more parents are choosing this non-invasive option.
Whether it’s a crick in your neck, your son’s sore knees, or a colicky baby, have you ever considered chiropractic care as an effective family health care and wellness alternative?
When your tooth hurts, you see a dentist. When your knee hurts, you see a sports medicine physician. For your son’s hives, an allergist. But a chiropractor does more than just backs: they can help a mom through pregnancy, or even ease your daughter’s regular after school headaches.
Making medical news
Chiropractors use their hands to treat the spine, discs, and nerves (no needles, drugs, or surgery). Chiropractic care has suffered a bit from speculation that it’s less credible than other medical practices, but that trend is changing. According to a 2016 article in the Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics, “chiropractic care is the most common complementary and integrative medicine practice used by children who made an estimated 30 million visits to U.S. chiropractors.”
Studies show children can benefit from chiropractic care for back and neck pain, as well as sports injuries. “We take care of a lot of local athletes,” said Dr. Brandie Nemchenko, DC, of King of Prussia Family Wellness Center. “Parents want to make sure their child’s alignment is top-notch for that competitive edge in sports performance.”
Many parents recognize chiropractic care as a balanced, proactive, conservative approach for injury prevention while keeping their kids’ spines and joints in motion. In other cases, parents have tried traditional medicine with little success — or even unwanted side effects — and they are looking for something more natural.
What to expect
Chiropractic care is non-invasive. There are no shots and no medication, and therefore no tears. For children, “we’re providing a safe and conservative approach to support other therapies that may be critically needed,” says Dr. Jennifer A. Hartmann, DC, FMS, LMT, of Strafford Chiropractic and Healing Center in Wayne. Pediatric chiropractic care does not involve the stereotypical cracking and manipulation of the spine, but a gentle adjustment of the muscles. Imagine the amount of pressure you use to push through the skin of a tomato, Hartmann said: “You’re not using any high force or high velocity pressure.”
Nemchenko focuses on caring for pregnant women and babies, which surprises many people, she said.
For their tiniest patients, chiropractors can treat infant congenital muscular torticollis, or wryneck, a condition in which a baby’s head is tilted or they struggle turning their neck. It’s caused by an awkward fetal position or a difficult childbirth. Although not painful, it can lead to breastfeeding difficulties or a flat head. Other commonly treated conditions include latching difficulties during nursing, colic, scoliosis, constipation, and hip dysplasia.
Low back pain and neck and shoulder pain (often from breastfeeding) are the most common conditions Nemchenko treats for expectant and new moms.
While all chiropractors take pediatrics courses during school, Nemchenko highly recommends ensuring your chiropractor has advanced training and certifications in the care of children and pregnant women. In addition to asking during your initial call or visit, she suggests screening potential practitioners via icpa4kids.org.
Office visits differ from traditional visits and will vary between patients, but chiropractors tend to be more hands-on as they gather patient information and history, as opposed to a physician assistant or nurse practitioner. “My goal is to seek the true cause of the issue,” Hartmann said. “Not just treat the symptoms.”
Being in the know
“More practitioners are seeing value in research and case studies, and are putting dollars into research,” Hartmann said. “Research is being published that reveals chiropractic can help.”
As more patients educate themselves about the latest options, many are looking for safer and more conservative health care alternatives. “When it comes to our own care and our children’s care, we don’t want a cookie-cutter approach. We want to know how to get the best treatment,” Hartmann said.
This article was originally published in the August/September issue of Main Line Parent magazine.