Why on earth would a baby need a Chiropractor?
I get asked this regularly. Just ask the next mom you meet who has experienced a baby with colic. A baby who cries almost non-stop, that is more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week, for more than 3 weeks. Although most parents don’t wait that long! Sometimes these children are taken to the GP, the Paediatrician and the nurse and no one can find anything obviously wrong with the child.
This is never a waste of time in my opinion as the term ‘Colic’ is exceptionally vague and is basically used as a cover-all for a baby that cries a lot. Because of this, it is always good to rule out more serious conditions first if you have any worries about the basic health of your baby. Pointers would include fever, loss of weight or inability to gain weight, failure to thrive, lethargy, rashes etc.
The new term for Colic is Irritable Baby Syndrome which I think is more appropriate as Colic has underlying meanings which relate entirely to the digestive tract. Whilst it could be the gut, this is only one aspect to this problem.
Chiropractic has been shown to have a 94% success rate with infantile colic. This was according to a study done in 1989 that was published in the Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics. Caesarean sections, very long and very short traumatic, or assisted natural births all have the potential to put strain on a baby’s spine. Not to mention the weeks afterwards where rocking, feeding and carrying the baby can also have effects. If the strain is enough to cause a vertebral misalignment, this can lead to nerve impingement which then affects all organs that rely on impulses at that level as well as the surrounding muscle and joint. If for example the digestive tract doesn’t get a good nerve supply, it can become sluggish which leads to gas build up and cramping, and therefore crying, pulling up of the legs and fist clenching as well as feeding difficulties. Whilst this is very sound reasoning, I also believe that spinal misalignments can in themselves just be painful and cause muscle spasm.
Other reasons for a child to see a Chiropractor would include crawling anomalies like using one knee and the other foot. This leads to pelvic imbalances which can last a lifetime. Walking, running and jumping anomalies all need to be addressed physically for the same reason. For this reason, Chiropractic works brilliantly with OT and/or physio because before you retrain a pattern or strengthen a muscle the underlying infrastructure (the skeleton) needs to be well aligned and working optimally. I often wonder with some of my adult patients if their pelvic or spinal imbalance has been lifelong, and then I think, if only they had had it treated through childhood, would they still be in my office?
My recommendations for a normal healthy baby would be an eight week checkup first. Then if all is well, a check at every milestone including rolling, sitting unassisted, crawling, walking and running. Thereafter, once or twice a year until they have stopped growing, unless they have had some kind of trauma such as a fall. So much like the dentist, these issues are best addressed with prevention rather than cure.