• Dr Amy Norman

Chiropractic and your child, is it safe? What do we do?

Why would you take your child to a Chiropractor?

Do Chiropractor’s ‘crack’ babies?

Is Chiropractic care safe for your child?


These are some commonly asked questions that are asked when it comes to Chiropractic care and children under the age of 12. This article will dive a little into this to clear up some misconceptions.


Firstly, we can not speak on behalf of our whole profession. The following information and opinions are a representation of what we do here at Dynamic Chiropractic NSW located in Hurstville.


Why would you take your child to a Chiropractor?

There could be a wide variety of reasons that a parent would bring their child for Chiropractic assessment. For babies it could range from birth trauma such as their baby having a preferred side of neck turning (torticollis) resulting in an uneven head shape to noticing that their child has ‘colic’ like symptoms such as being gassy/ constipated or very unsettled. For children it could be an orthopaedic examination as they have had a bad fall or experiencing back pain and for adolescents it could be for a spinal assessment for scoliosis. There is a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions that Chiropractors are trained to assess and treat. Where we feel that we can not help your child- we will then refer you for further care and assessment.


In 2019, an independent review was conducted by Safer Care Victoria after there were some community concerns about the safety of Chiropractic. We will be referring to findings throughout this article. You can find the full document here. https://www.bettersafercare.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-10/20191024-Final%20Chiropractic%20Spinal%20Manipulation.pdf


The Safer Care Victoria review asked a variety of questions to people that took their children under 12 to seek Chiropractic care. Here is an excerpt from the review with what was the main reason to seek Chiropractic care over the past 10 years.



Here are the groups of main reasons why people brought their children to see a Chiropractor.


We never make any promises about whether or not we can “cure” or “definitely” fix certain conditions. It is not ethical and nothing is worse than giving vulnerable families the sense of false hope. A great way to look at Chiropractic care for your child is that we will have one piece of the puzzle and offer our clinical opinion and treatment should we see appropriate. By using a variety of soft non-forceful techniques, massage, rehabilitation, ergonomic advice and education your child may or may not benefit from our type of care. The only way to find out is to ultimately trial this type of conservative care and decide for yourself if it is beneficial to your child- as no one will know your child better than you!


Do Chiropractor’s ‘crack’ babies?

The short, sharp and sweet answer to this is no. We would never do anything forceful to your child. However, this is a great opportunity to address some of the misconceptions about Chiropractic adjustments, what they are and what is performed on your child.


Firstly, we need to address the terminology and what actually is meant by this. At Dynamic Chiropractic- we strongly dislike the term “crack” to describe what we do at the practice. The word naturally has a negative connotation and you can not “un-crack” something is how we explain this to our patients. Our preferred term is adjustment! This may or may not produce a sound.


What people usually think when they say “crack” is the sound that may or may not happen when you are getting adjusted. The medical term for this technique is called spinal manipulation/adjustment . Spinal manipulation is defined as “any technique performed by any health professional that involves a high velocity, low amplitude thrust beyond the physiological range of motion, impacting the spine, within the limits of anatomical integrity.” In other words something that is fast, low in force that will move your body slightly above where you can move that area on your own but not beyond what is reasonable for the area you are impacting. When someone does this, you may or may not hear a noise that is a temporary conversion of gas in that area.


When it comes to babies we never use high speed or high force and we never move anything that is too extreme for your child. Therefore the short answer to this question is no. We do not “crack” or adjust babies at this practice.


Is Chiropractic care safe for your child?

At Dynamic Chiropractic we use a range of techniques with children under the age of 12. Some of these are soft tissue work such as massage, stretching, rehabilitation, ergonomic advice and education for prevention and management of a variety of conditions. All of these techniques have very low risk to cause serious harm.


Here is an excerpt from a literature review found in the Safer Care Victoria Independent review in regards to safety and spinal manipulation/ adjustments:


“In summary, the review of the literature revealed that the potential risk of harm from spinal manipulation in children was rare and, when it did occur, was typically minor in severity. However, as reported by Cochrane, “consistent with the findings of other systematic reviews, due to the paucity of studies and the lack of reported information on the specific treatment techniques employed, it is difficult to draw conclusions about the safety and effectiveness of spinal manipulation in children.”

This literature review looked not just at Chiropractors, but all 4 professionals that are legally able to adjust the spine such as Osteopaths, Physiotherapists and Medical professionals. It is also worth noting that this is in regard to adjusting Children, rather than the Chiropractic treatment style at our clinic which in general includes soft tissue work, stretching, education, rehabilitation and ergonomic advice.

The bottom line is that we would never do anything forceful to your child and everything performed is with your informed consent and with a high level of care!

Still have some questions?

We hope this answers some commonly asked questions about Chiropractic care for your children. Should you have any specific questions in regards to your child please feel free to call the clinic on 0407 992 119.

References:

  1. Chiropractic spinal manipulation of children under 12. Independent review Safer Care Victoria (https://www.bettersafercare.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-10/20191024-Final%20Chiropractic%20Spinal%20Manipulation.pdf)

  2. Cochrane Australia: Systematic Review of Spinal Manipulation in Children, August 2019. See Appendix B

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