Pediatric Chiropractic Care Improves Babies’ Spinal Misalignment
Pediatric chiropractic physicians specialize in treating pregnant women and their babies. It is a poorly understood fact that even a normal vaginal delivery without intervention can be traumatic for a newborn’s spine, particularly the head and neck. Breech delivery, Cesarean section, forceps and vacuum extraction aids cause even more stress, often resulting in spinal misalignments at birth or shortly thereafter.
Some of the more noticeable signs indicating spinal misalignment in a newborn or infant include the child’s head being consistently tilted or turned to one side. Decreased head or neck mobility on one side or difficulty in nursing, particularly on one side, are signs as well. Congenital torticollis is a condition which may cause any of these indicators.
Documentation cited in leading obstetric and pediatric medical journals states that most torticollis seen in newborns is due to birth trauma. Torticollis is usually due to misalignment (subluxation) of the first few bones in the neck and/or an injury to neck muscles, resulting in muscle spasms. Common conventional medical therapy for torticollis involves physical therapy to stretch the spasmed muscles. However, solely addressing the muscular component of torticollis is not often successful.
Specially trained pediatric doctors of chiropractic may gently and effectively correct these misalignments, and babies often relax and sleep through the office visit. In 1992, the Journal of Manual Medicine published a European medical doctor’s study reporting that 43 of 44 infants with torticollis responded favorably to this type of conservative spinal care. In 1998, the medical journal Spine reported that the sooner babies had spinal misalignments corrected, the more favorable the outcome.
According to a 1993 medical report in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, failure to detect and correct subluxation will likely result in residual head posture problems, even after “successful” neck muscle therapy. The longer torticollis persists, the more likely a patient will develop scoliosis and/or the facial-head asymmetry known as plagiocephaly. This is caused by a chronic muscle spasm pulling on the mastoid process, which is the bone behind the ear. The longer this pulling occurs, the more distorted and flattened the head appears.
One of the current conventional medical solutions for plagiocephaly is the use of a helmet. While this solution may help change the shape of the infant’s head, it does not correct the underlying subluxation causing the torticollis in the first place. Plagiocephaly has also been successfully addressed by gentle chiropractic care to the spine and cranium, in conjunction with gentle stretching and cranial sacral techniques.
Dr. Risa Sloves is one of a small group of chiropractic physicians in Connecticut who is board certified in chiropractic pediatrics and maternity care. She practices with her husband, Dr. Mark Joachim, at Associates in Family Chiropractic and Natural Health Care, P.C., at 156 East Ave, Norwalk. 203-838-1555. See ad, page 36.