Pediatric Chiropractic


TO:         Medical News For You

From:     JC Smith, MA, DC

RE:         Pediatric Chiropractic

Chiropractic Popcorn for Kids

1. What benefits and risks come from a child visiting a chiropractor?

First of all, there are minimal risks involved from chiropractic care. In fact, chiropractors have the lowest malpractice rates of all doctors; the rate of a serious adverse effect is one in 3.5 million. For children, the rate is even lower due to the gentle methods used by pediatric chiropractors.

Before anyone can understand the benefits of chiropractic care for kids or adults, it’s important to understand the logic of its science.

Chiropractors recognize that the nerve system commands and controls every bodily function—like a car’s computer and electrical system. Instead of bad germs or deformed genes, chiropractors believe nerve interference from spinal misalignments, aka, vertebral subluxation in chiropractic parlance, may cause organic /visceral problems as well as back pain and spasm.

Before this concept is understandable, a short course in neurophysiology is required, but first I must admit there is so much more about the brain and nerve system that needs to be studied because the illegal medical boycott of chiropractors also inhibited research into this field until of late.

Any discussion into this area requires a high-tech understanding of biology called neurophysiology—how the nervous system controls function in all organs—which most MDs and lay people steeped in the outdated and simplistic germ theory certainly do not understand.

Recently President Obama added to this issue when he announced a $100 million grant to map and to unlock the “enormous mystery” of the human brain in hopes of boosting the understanding and treatment of brain disorders that affect over 100 million Americans.

Francis Collins, the present director of the NIH and former head of the human genome project, spoke on the Colbert Report of this endeavor to develop “neurotechnology” treatments for possible nerve related disorders.

Of course, chiropractors believe they have already developed many methods that affect nerve related dysfunction via their methods that range from the traditional manipulative spinal adjustments to help back pain as well as other non-force and gentle methods that affect the circuitry of the brain cortex itself.

Recently researchers have discovered how back pain also may cause the brain circuitry to malfunction and actually degenerate. Lately, Dr. Ted Carrick at Life University has gotten much attention for his innovative work in this area of functional neurology. ABC Nightly News did a short program on his work with patients with brain disorders who were helped by his innovative methods.  Dr. Carrick first made headlines when he treated Sydney Crosby, NHL star, for his concussion and severe headaches after traditional medical care failed to help him.

These are among many brain disorders that have never been understood until recently with the use of EEG and functional MRI scans, and these findings open up an entirely new area of possible help for many “mental” patients by chiropractic care, which may explain why chiropractic care has helped patients with ADHD, autism, migraine headaches, and fevers.

This is not a new issue, just unexplored. Often patients will tell their chiropractors after receiving a cervical adjustment, “I can think more clearly now.” Although this is a common reaction many chiropractors have heard before, the explanation of this phenomenon was unknown until it caught the interest of two researchers in New Zealand who found a novel explanation.

Heidi Haavik-Taylor, PhD, and Bernadette Murphy, DC, PhD, from the New Zealand College of Chiropractic in Auckland, conducted a study consisting of 24 patients with a history of neck stiffness and sometimes neck pain (but sometimes no neck pain) that measured the central nervous system activity in the brainstem and spinal cord of the participants before and after cervical adjustments.[1]

This remarkable study found that the sensitive measurements in the brain (called sensory evoked potentials) indicated that neck adjustments may “reboot the nervous system” to help it to function better. This is the first time that anyone has used electroencephalograph (EEG) to prove that there are definite changes to the way the brain processes information after chiropractic care.

 “The process of a spinal adjustment is like rebooting a computer. The signals that these adjustments send to the brain, via the nervous system, reset muscle behaviour patterns,” said Dr. Haavik-Taylor. “By stimulating the nervous system we can improve the function of the whole body. This is something that chiropractors and their patients have known for years; and now we have some scientific evidence to prove it.”[2]

In another related article published in The Journal of Neuroscience, Dr. VA Apkarian, et al. has shown that long standing back pain may lead to altered neurotransmitters and cause serious brain degeneration. He found in MRI studies that chronic back pain can shrink the brain by as much as 11%, equivalent to the amount of gray matter lost in 10 to 20 years.[3]

Many of these adult neurological disorders often began in youth. Most parents fail to realize that nearly 3/5ths of adult acute back pain stems from accidents in their youth. How many times have you fallen off a bicycle, roller-skates, or endure sports injuries playing anything from football to cheerleading, which is the second most dangerous sport nowadays.

When your child fails to respond to traditional medical care, a simple, safe, and inexpensive exam and treatment by your local chiropractor may open up a new world of treatments for you and your child.

2. What are children’s reactions after seeing a chiropractor? Is it a positive experience or something they wouldn’t do again?

 It’s a falsehood that chiropractic care hurts as surveys have already discovered, but a fearful issue kept alive by biased MDs who have an attitude about chiropractors.

I’ve adjusted kids for over 30 years now. Although most kids are nervous about getting a spinal adjustment because they expect it to hurt like dental drillings or medical shots often do, once kids have their “popcorn” spinal adjustment, they can feel for themselves the instant relief. This popcorn may also prevent serious problems as adults in terms of back pain and some cerebral disorders.

My own daughter experienced a fall when she was 4 years old while doing cartwheels in the yard. She fell on her head, jamming her neck spinal joints. She came into the house crying, asking for “popcorn.” I asked her if she meant the kind of popcorn we eat or the kind of popcorn I give. Of course, she meant spinal popcorn, so I laid her on my adjusting table, palpated her neck to discover a kink in her spine with associated muscle spasms.

I immediately adjusted her neck, the popcorn rang out, and she got immediately relief. Then she looked up at me with her big brown eyes and said, “Daddy, I’m really glad you’re a chiropractor.” Of course, I beamed with pride.

But, I thought of the millions of kids who also experience spinal injuries like her, but whose daddies are not chiropractors and have never gone to a chiropractor for relief. So, a simple childhood fall later becomes a serious adult problem.

Instead, many are taken to the MDs for drugs, shots, and then spine surgery. Even if they don’t get surgery, the vertebral subluxations remain in their spines to later in life cause joint arthritis, disc degeneration, and the neurological disorders in their brain circuitry as Dr. Haavik-Taylor found.

Every child should be taken to a chiropractor just as they see a dentist regularly. You certainly don’t wait until your child has a toothache before you introduce them to toothpaste, flossing, and dental care. So, don’t wait for the back attack to subside on its own because the degenerative processes will continue unabated only to cause possible problems later as adults.

3. Are there studies that support the benefits? Any studies that support the risks?

The benefits of pediatric chiropractic care are immense and the risks are minimal, if any at all. Not only has spinal manipulation been shown by the US Public Health Service to be a “proven treatment” for low back pain in adults, new research case studies published in the Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics now show its effectiveness for childhood back pain as well as many organic problems, such as:

  • ADHD
  • Allergy
  • Asthma
  • Autism
  • Back Pain
  • Colic
  • Constipation
  • Developmental Disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Erb’s Palsy
  • Fever
  • Otitis Media
  • Scoliosis
  • Seizure
  • Sleep
  • Torticollis
  • Vision

This may come as a surprise to most parents who fail to understand health care from a neurophysiologic perspective. Presently, the allopathic medical profession has imprinted the belief that sickness is principally bad germs or genetics. Certainly most American children do have bad blood chemistry from years of junk food consumption, but there is another perspective that people simply do not understand–the neurological perspective of health care—the chiropractic story.

The paradigm shift from bad blood to bad nerves may be a breakthrough for many people. Indeed, there is more to healthcare than taking more drugs or having more surgery.

4. Is it covered by insurance?

Yes, chiropractic care is covered by health insurance. Obamacare also has included Section 2706, aka, the non-discrimination clause that mandates coverage for all licensed healthcare providers such as chiropractors, nutritionists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, and other CAM providers.

5. Is this a common practice within the US? Outside the US?

Yes, in fact, there is a Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics that publishes a journal exclusively on children issues. This journal fulfills a long-standing need for a quality journal in chiropractic that focuses primarily on the clinical care of mothers and children. The purpose of JCCP is to provide the chiropractic practitioner with information that will foster clinical excellence, encourage dialog and research, and be a resource for those seeking information on the efficacy and validity of chiropractic care for infants, children and mothers.

6. Why do some adults have reservations about sending children to a chiropractor?

Probably due simply to ignorance or medical bias. Since most people have been tainted by medical propaganda, which is the subject of my book, The Medical War Against Chiropractors, they fail to realize the benefits of a sound spine.

This medical boycott and defamation led to an antitrust lawsuit in 1976, but most people are unaware of the illegal campaign by the AMA to “contain and eliminate the chiropractic profession.” Although the AMA did not eliminate chiropractors, the its war of words certainly soiled the reputation of fine chiropractors whose only crime was getting sick people well without drugs and surgery.

On the other hand, parents often do not realize the overall benefits for chiropractic care, which explains why back pain is the #1 disabling condition in our country. Imagine if the AMA had boycotted and defamed dental care how bad Americans’ smiles would look, well that is the same dire situation we chiropractors find with Americans’ spine health.

I urge every reader to find a good chiropractor (ask your friends for referrals) and get your own spine examined as well as your kids. Like seeking dental care for the first time in your life, you don’t know how good you can feel until you have a healthy functioning spine.

JC Smith, MA, DC, is a 33-year practicing chiropractor, author of The Medical War Against Chiropractors, and he maintains a website, Chiropractors for Fair Journalism.

[1] HH Taylor, B. Murphy, “Altered Sensorimotor Integration with Cervical Spine Manipulation,” J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 31/2 (Feb 2008;):115-26.

 [2] Press Release: “New Science Behind Chiropractic Care,” NZ Chiropractors Association,  January 27, 2008

[3] A. Vania Apkarian et al. “Chronic Back Pain Is Associated with Decreased Prefrontal and Thalamic Gray Matter Density,” The Journal of Neuroscience, November 17, 2004, 24(46):10410-10415.