Chiropractic for pediatrics is a specialized art that requires additional education as performing chiropractic on children is different than on an adult. Many people think that it would be the same, but a children’s skeletal structure is mostly made of cartilage unlike an adult. According to the American Chiropractic Association, the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners’ released a practice analysis in 2010 which found that 17% of chiropractic patients were under the age of 18. Children in today’s world, and especially this year with a global pandemic, are unfortunately dealing with stressors that affect their nervous system sending them into a misalignment of the spine having an impact on their overall health, behavior, and development. Chiropractic for kids is a gentle, non-invasive treatment working to correct underlying issues that manifest in many ways before they become hard-wired during development.
Pediatric Chiropractic Associations
There are several legitimate pediatric chiropractic associations where chiropractors who treat children can find additional training and resources they can utilize in their practice. These organizations are in place to help chiropractors better serve families, and contribute to the advancement in research for pediatric chiropractic care.
International Chiropractic Pediatric Association:
- Provides training in chiropractic education related to all aspects of family health from top to bottom – conception all the way through infants and children.
- The ICPA certification program is a 48-credit program with 19 course offerings including 15 in-person seminars, 4 online seminars, and 1 final test. The program works to broaden a chiropractic providers ability in technique, evaluation, and assessment in various stages including pregnancy, birth, infancy, and childhood.
- ICPA also has a Practice-Based Research Network (PBRN) who are experienced chiropractors that conduct evidence-based research to address safety and effectiveness in pediatric chiropractic. This has a huge impact on the profession of chiropractic not only by validating the pediatric chiropractic profession, but also raises chiropractic standards and encourages more chiropractic research to be conducted.
- Chiropractors can become a member of the ICPA whose goal is establishing and advancing the chiropractic family lifestyle. Chiropractors will also gain access to multiple resources such as access to educational materials, subscription to Pathways magazine, and more. The benefits include increasing your visibility to the public, give you an active status in their chiropractic directory, discounts on pediatric training, collaborate and gain clinical support with other chiropractors, and expand your resources.
Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics:
- This is a specialty department within the American Chiropractic Association who aim to support and promote the “acceptance and advancement of pediatric chiropractic care.”
- They accept members that are not only established chiropractors in practice, but also chiropractic students and non-DC physicians that are members of the ACA. Similarly to the ICPA, becoming a member increases your visibility to the pediatric community as a chiropractor treating kids, put on a list of chiropractors that treats pediatric patients therefore increasing your patient base, collaborate with other providers, gain access to educational resources, and more.
- Also, much like the ICPA, the council on chiropractic pediatrics conducts pediatric chiropractic evidence-based research, and make it accessible to providers. They also provide access to the Journal of Chiropractic medicine, and ways to donate to further research.
- As for education, the council puts on an annual symposium in which members will receive discounted registration to the symposium and all council events.
These are the top organizations that chiropractors looking to treat pediatric patients have as their resource. They are also the top associations that patients are directed to when looking for a chiropractor to treat their child, so it would be very beneficial as a chiropractic provider to be a member of these organizations for validity and access to more patients.
Pediatric Chiropractic Benefits
There are many parents of patients who may question why on earth a child would need a chiropractic adjustment, but children’s bodies actually go through trauma from very early on beginning with the trauma of birth itself. As they grow, they learn to move through the world and are constantly in a state of play. Much like adults, children also experience not only physical stress, but emotional as well. The trouble is, most adults do not see this or have trouble grasping it, because children’s bones are pliable and still growing, it’s hard to imagine them needing an adjustment. Many parents also don’t realize that trauma to their bodies can cause a variety of other issues that can be rectified with a chiropractic adjustment to ensure proper development.
Benefits of pediatric chiropractic care include:
- Immune System Support – a chiropractic adjustment can improve their immunity functions such as a child who is suffering from an infection or a cold. When it comes to smaller children, it can improve the digestive system and help with issues such as constipation or reflux.
- Improved Behavior – a chiropractic adjustment allows for less stress on the body, and less stress on the body can lead to better behavior. An adjustment can help improve their mood by releasing strain.
- Better Sleep – similar to above, releasing stress on the body can not only improve behavior, but sleep as well. Better sleep will help them function better during the day, and is also essential to their development and well-being. It may also help with bed wetting at night. Ample and quality sleep is crucial for growing children.
- Neurological Development Support – by releasing pressure in the joints, bones, and spine, a chiropractic adjustment can have a substantial effect on a child’s brain development.
- Nervous System Support – by making sure the spine is growing correctly, a chiropractor may prevent and treat nervous system issues like chronic ear infections, asthma, allergies, and other respiratory problems. Pediatric chiropractic targets nerves that are out of alignment affecting the respiratory system in the child.
It is important to make not only the child feel comfortable with the experience, but the parents as well. Being completely transparent and honest about the benefits of chiropractic, and even when you feel that it may not be right for a child, will be the biggest benefit in the long run of trust and longevity of your practice.
Pediatric Chiropractic Safety & Research
The most important aspect in any type of chiropractic specialty is of course safety, and the key to safety is education. This is especially true when dealing with pediatrics because it involves a different process of technique, depth, and contacts. Thrusts must be shallower, a little faster, and with less force, and contacts must be smaller. For children, you are targeting a smaller surface area, so an option depending on the case would be to mobilize the joints instead of manipulate them due to their increased flexibility in their joints.
As of this writing, there is limited research on pediatric chiropractic, but additional studies are on-going, especially with the support of the associations above.
Pediatric Chiropractic Research:
- A systemic review released in 2019, Manual Therapy for the Pediatric Population, concluded that results were favorable for different types of manual therapies for pediatric conditions such as musculoskeletal, ADHD, and TMD. The researchers go on to say that some were inconclusive, and more studies are needed.
- A systemic review released in 2018, Manual Therapy for Unsettled, Distressed, and Excessively Crying Infants, concluded that there was favorable evidence for the reduction of crying in infants who received manual therapy for around 1 hour per day, but more research is needed.
- A survey of chiropractors and parents in 2009, The Safety and Effectiveness of Pediatric Chiropractic, received responses from both parents and chiropractors indicating improvement in children’s complaints. Additionally, both sets of responders saw positive outcomes for issues unrelated to their initial complaint.
There are favorable results in the current research realm of pediatric chiropractic, but there is a call for further study in this specialty.
Should Parents Try Pediatric Chiropractic for Their Child?
Pediatric chiropractic is a safe modality; however, it is important as chiropractors that we receive the additional training needed to treat children. While there are many similarities, there are also far more differences in technique that need special care, education, and experience. Opening up our practices for further opportunities to heal children can further our reach and ability to achieve optimal health before major issues arise with adulthood.