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CHIROPRACTIC AND CHILDREN: A NATURAL COMBINATION
By Dr. Joseph J. Murphy
"Chiropractic care for my children, why? Their back's don't bother them."
One of the most hotly debated topics in health care today is whether or not children can benefit from chiropractic adjustments. The answer to this question is an emphatic yes. Let's examine some of the issues of concern as well as explain the tremendous benefits chiropractic health care offers for our young children.
Chiropractic, a science and art, has its philosophical base in keeping your body healthy; preventing disease before it strikes. Chiropractic adjustment or spinal manipulation is used to remove nerve interference, which is blockage in the nerve energy between the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system that can cause dysfunction. But chiropractic is also concerned with the other factors in keeping one healthy i.e., proper diet, the right amount of exercise, a proper mental attitude, rest and recreation. Chiropractic's philosophy is one of wellness: keeping one's self well without the use of drugs or surgery when it's avoidable.
When this philosophy of wellness is applied to children, there should be a natural connection made. Obviously, where we would like to see the least drugs and surgery used are in our young children, especially toddlers and infants. Strong drugs, even antibiotics can be devastating to their system. Chiropractors use gentle low force techniques to eliminate nerve interference in the spines of young children, thus improving health naturally.
Why would a child have nerve interference to begin with? Everything from the trauma of forcible birth and delivery to the daily jarring children receive; learning to crawl and learning to walk; their falls and their play all of which can cause nerve interference at the spinal level.
Why then is there even any question about the use of chiropractic for maintaining children's health? To better answer that question we have to first examine the traditional allopathic medical view of chiropractic. That is, one to treat musculoskeletal conditions only and specifically back pain. For those doctors that see chiropractors only as back pain relievers, they would of course question the use of chiropractic in children.
The second reason is the safety issue. From the misreported cases of CVA to the many unsubstantiated claims of injury, chiropractic is sometimes put out to be a dangerous type of therapy. Both claims by the allopathic community are dead wrong. Chiropractic has been proven time after time through research, low injury claim and insurance underwriting to be one of the safest health care systems in the world.
Chiropractors believe that by keeping a child's nervous system functioning at optimum, everything in their body will work better. Their immune system will function optimally. They will be less likely to suffer from immune system deficiency problems, such as asthma, allergies, infection and the like. The joints of their spine and joints of their extremities will move more fluidly and with less restriction.
Often the detractors of chiropractic care for children point to the fact that there is a very small body of research showing the efficacy of chiropractic care in improving children's health. While this may be true, the empirical evidence abounds, and more and more research is currently being done to show how chiropractic can help children. One of those areas of research is in preventing childhood ear infection or Otitis Media. Several studies are already underway to show how chiropractic care can help. A study published in 1996 in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiologic Therapeutics showed a dramatic improvement in childhood ear infection after only one or two treatments. Much research in the prevention of ear infection is currently underway.
The overuse of antibiotics is extremely dangerous, especially in children. Currently, the American Pediatric Association is advising less use of antibiotics in children and no use of them unless an infection is documented. The overuse of antibiotics over the last thirty years has caused many resistant strains of bacteria to come about. Although Otitis Media, a problem that at least one in three children suffer, is initially treated with antibiotics, the use of antibiotics has not been shown to reduce recurrent infection or even prophylactically to prevent infection.
Chiropractors are receiving increased training in general pediatrics. It's beginning to make up more and more of their four year chiropractic college curriculum. Chiropractors are increasingly being added to the staffs of large medical centers like Kaiser Permanente, and hospitals like Meadowlands and Montclair. They are increasingly being sought after to speak on Otitis Media prevention at medical conferences.
Should your children receive chiropractic care? I believe they should. I believe all children can benefit from the reduction of nerve interference as a result of the gentle adjustments of a chiropractor. Chiropractic is safe, extremely so, and if it prevents your child from having to take a strong antibiotic even one time, you're benefiting your children's health immensely.