Pediatric chiropractic care can begin as soon as a baby is born. Chiropractors will check children of all ages to make sure the spine is in proper alignment which allows for proper nerve system function and healthy growth and development.
As a member of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, can you tell us, what is the biggest benefit children receive from chiropractic care that they don’t get through traditional medicine?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Wow. That’s a great question, and this one actually just describes people across the board. The biggest benefit of chiropractic, whether you’re a child or adult, is actually the same. Although granted, it’s better to start early, that way if you’ve had care throughout the course of your lifetime. It’s just like when parents start their children caring for their teeth, they start them very young so they develop a good habit so they’ll have healthy teeth throughout the course of their lifetime.
Well, keeping your spine and nerve system healthy does require some work by the individual; you can’t just do nothing and think that your spine and nerve system will stay healthy. So, chiropractic really focuses on a holistic practice, and it’s based on a vitalistic philosophy, and it’s about enhancing the nerve system function by maintaining the spine in proper alignment. Typically, stress, tension, poor posture, accidents, falls, whether it be while learning to walk or falls while playing sports when the kids get older, will create these misalignments or subluxations, put pressure on those delicate spinal nerves and interfere with the communication from the brain to the rest of the body, and also create static or interference in the way the body communicates messages and information back up to the brain. So, if the brain isn’t getting a full picture of how the body’s working or what the liver or the spleen or kidneys are doing, then the liver, spleen, or kidneys aren’t going to function at their optimum level because the brain can’t give it the commands to execute.
So, chiropractic is really about removing nerve interference, enhancing nerve function, and allowing the body to run at its optimum potential. Now in most cases, the body is designed to be healthy, it’s not designed to be sick. It’s designed to function. It is extremely intelligent because the body develops from two cells and creates a perfect baby, and then at every stage of growth and development is controlled by the nerve system. And then as we get older, the immune system is all controlled by your nerve system, so how well your body heals and repairs itself is a direct function of how properly and well your nerve system functions. That’s why chiropractic is focused on the nerve system. It’s the master system that controls everything else. By removing interference, of course everything’s going to work better. It’s just like if you have a virus on your computer and you can’t get stuff done, as soon as you remove that virus and get the interference out of there the computer works fine again. That’s really what our nerve system is; it’s a computer and a communication system to make sure that our bodies run and regulate itself through every stage of growth and development, health, and every stage of life.
What are some of the most common issues or conditions your pediatric patients have that you help to treat with chiropractic care?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Typically when people come in and they’re bringing in their children, the most common thing we see in infants that’s easy for parents to pick up, unless they’ve been educated and bringing their kids in just for wellness care, we’ll see something called an infant torticollis, which sometimes can result from a traumatic birth if the doctor has to pull the neck to get the baby out, or a C-section, sometimes you can injure some of the area of the neck. The head will lock down on one side, and it’s called a wry neck or a torticollis or a stiff neck, where the child can’t move. And then, slowly, if you can work with the adjustive techniques and get some of the pressure out of there and work the muscles, eventually you can break that spasm and the child can return to normal health. So, we see that a lot.
Other things that we’ll also see with infants and children when parents are bringing them in, you’ll see, as they get older, you’ll see back pain and neck pain after accidents and falls. Obviously, parents will bring their kids in to be screened for scoliosis, which is a form of misalignment. Sometimes when there’s irritation to the nerve system of a newborn, you might see a colicky baby. They might have things that look like their having difficulty breathing, which might get misdiagnosed as asthma when it’s really just some pressure and irritation to the thoracic area where the ribs attach, and sometimes that breathing, the bucket handle motion, the up and down, because the ribs attach to the vertebrae, there could be misalignment there.
There are many different things, but the thing that gives me the most joy and happiness is when parents are bringing their kids in just to get them checked. Just like you do a routine check-up for your teeth, you should do routine check-ups for your children for their spine periodically. Because if you ever watched a kid learn to walk, they fall 10, 20, 30 times a day. If you watch a kid engaging in sports and roughhousing with their brothers and sisters and their friends, they fall five times a day, they get put in headlocks, they’re running, jumping, bumping their heads, there’s millions of things. And then the kids grow up, they’re spending hours and hours on computers with their heads face down or on their phones. I see kids that are eight, nine, ten-years-old with iPhones and they’re texting, and when they’re texting they’re looking down, their head’s in that forward position.
We see a lot of these things affecting the children of today, and so there are many different reasons to bring your kids to chiropractors, but those are the most commons reasons that we see here in our office.
You did mention a little bit about this, but should parents bring their child to get a chiropractic exam after every minor accident and fall to get their spine checked?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Not after every minor accident or fall. What I recommend and what I do in my office is, we usually check folks about every two weeks to make sure that the spine stays clear. What’ll happen is stress, tension, poor posture, accidents, those things will accumulate over time and build and build and build, so as long as you’re getting checked and getting those misalignment cleared out once or twice a month, usually that’s enough to keep the body functioning at a very high level and prevent a lot of those degenerative changes and misalignments that can cause problems later in life.
There are some chiropractors who will do a higher frequency and some people who do a lower frequency, depending on their technique and their personal beliefs. I tend to use the techniques and pretty much what I do for myself, I never go more than two weeks without getting my spine checked. That’s what I live by, those are my internal rules, and so I apply them across the board of my practice. There are some people who need to be seen more, some people who need to be seen less, depending on specific conditions with their spine, if they have scoliosis or they’re a high-level athlete and so on.
If a child experiences a big growth spurt, should they be examined by a chiropractor to make sure their spine and joints are growing properly?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Actually, it’s when they experience growth spurts, and yes, children should get checked periodically throughout life. When they’re growing, there’s an old adage that you might have heard, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree”, so if they’re going through a big growth spurt and there’s a misalignment putting uneven pressure on a growth plate, it might have an effect on how straight that spine grows. So, adjusting during those big growth periods will make sure that everything is straight. If the spine is straight then it’ll grow straight, and that’s the best time.
But it’s not only if a kid has a fall or if they’re going through a growth spurt, they should be getting checked regardless. Just like when you wake up in the morning, you brush your teeth regardless whether there’s symptoms or what time of day or year or season it is. It doesn’t matter, you always brush them to keep them healthy. It’s no different with the spine, as long as you get the spine checked periodically and keep it healthy, it’s going to be less likely to break down and it’s going to function the way it was designed to.
If parents schedule routine chiropractic checkups for their healthy children, how often should the visits be scheduled? Should it vary based on the age of the child?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: There is some variation. Obviously when an infant is born and they’re not really picking up and using their neck muscles, you don’t need to check them as frequently as when they’re more active, when they start to pick up their head, when they’re learning to walk, when they’re going through growth spurts, when they’re participating in sports. So sometimes if I have a kid who’s playing ice hockey, then yeah, I will probably check that kid probably once a week if he’s skating and engaging in sport two to three times a week.
So yeah, you might want to see a high-level athlete with a little bit more consistently, especially if there’s more risk inherent to that particular sport. But generally speaking, twice a month once you do the initial correction is usually enough, but you never know, and some people require more maintenance. Depending on the child’s age, their activity level, and their history too, if there’s a condition like scoliosis or something else that’s weakening the spine, they may need actually to be checked and adjusted more than someone who doesn’t have those issues.
To speak with Dr. Gregg Rubinstein, visit www.ChiropractorMidtown.com or call 917-534-6484 to schedule an appointment