People often ask what the typical age of a chiropractic patient is. The answer is that patients come in all shapes, sizes and ages, right from newborn babies up to nonagenarians, although the majority of patients probably fall in the age range 25-60.
Why should children, let alone newborn babies, need to have chiropractic treatment I hear you ask? The answer is that dysfunction or restricted movement in the spine can occur at any age for a variety of reasons. The aim of chiropractic care is to enable optimal movement in the spine, thereby reducing any tension on the nervous system, and allowing the body to function fully, rather than the diagnosis and treatment of specific paediatric medical conditions.
The birth process can be a difficult, stressful, and sometimes traumatic journey for a baby, especially if the mother gives birth lying on her back, which means she has to push the baby out uphill due to the shape of the pelvis. Although assisted delivery using forceps or Ventouse may be necessary if the baby has become “stuck” in the birth canal, they can put additional physical stress on the baby’s neck and skull, causing the baby to show signs of discomfort such as excessive crying for no reason, a significant dislike of lying on their back, and feeding or sleeping problems. Recent research has shown that there is an association between a baby having a difficult birth and crying excessively.
However, physical stress on the baby’s developing spine can begin long before birth due to in-utero constraint. This is where the baby does not lie in the most ideal position in the uterus, adopting a breech, transverse or facial presentation, which can restrict the baby’s movement, and can lead to compression of the neck and spine.
Chiropractic treatment of babies is very gentle, using gentle finger pressure on the restricted segments of the spine as well as relieving tension in the associated muscles. Cranio-sacral therapy can also be used to relieve abnormal tension in the bones of the skull. Babies usually tolerate treatment very well, and often sleep much better after treatment. Specific abdominal massage can also be very beneficial in helping to relieve constipation.
At Guildford Chiropractic Centre we have a special cushion for babies to lie in, to make them feel safe and secure during treatment; alternatively they can be treated whilst lying on their mother’s chest or abdomen. We are also aware that sometimes babies may need to stop for a feed during their treatment, and this is not normally a problem for us.
If you have a baby that you feel may benefit from chiropractic treatment we are happy to discuss this with you by phone, or by having a free 15 minute spinal assessment to ascertain whether our chiropractors feel that treatment may be beneficial.