By Lisa Goodman, DC, CCSP, CACCP
For lifelong chiropractic patients and advocates, the idea of adjusting a brand new baby is not unusual. However, it is understandable that the general public may not understand the benefits and frankly, the NEED to have your newborn baby adjusted. Yes, I am talking about adjusting babies that are less than one month old! Before you get too excited, don't worry - baby adjustments look (and sound) nothing like adult adjustments.
First we Evaluate
Every patient in our office, newborn or adult, receives a full, comprehensive exam to determine if treatment is necessary. In the case of a newborn, this includes a thorough history of mom's pregnancy and delivery as well as baby's symptoms in just their first few days of life. It is incredible how information gathered about pregnancy and delivery will lead us right to the mechanism of spinal stress or dysfunction. For example, babies born via assisted delivery of vacuum, forceps or cesarean section may be at higher risk for stress and dysfunction to their neck (cervical spine). Babies who were born breech or were in the breech position for a while in utero may be at higher risk for stress or dysfunction to their lower backs or tailbone.
Tell Me More about Symptoms
You may be wondering what type of symptoms might a new baby experience that would lead you to bring them to a pediatric chiropractor ASAP? Some of the more concerning symptoms include a persistent head tilt to one side (torticollis), severe irritability or colic, inability to stay asleep for long stretches (2-3 hours), or reflux. These are all very good reasons to see a chiropractor. Specific chiropractic adjustments can decompress the spine and reduce overstimulation of the nervous system that may be causing your baby distress.
I stated earlier that adjustments to a new baby are not like adult adjustments. However, the result is the same, and in most cases babies respond much faster than adults. Newborn spines are very mobile, not hardened into bones (they are largely cartilaginous) and of course tiny. Incredibly, with over a decade of experience I am able to palpate (feel) joint restrictions and fixations that are causing pain or nervous system compression in babies. My technique of choice in treating newborns is with finger tip pressure and vibration (no thrust). Without getting into the technical details, these adjustments incorporate the infant's breathing, natural body responses to pressure and organic movements to correct mechanical joint dysfunction. It can be absolutely incredible to see.
I also mentioned that newborns NEED chiropractic care. Let me clarify. I believe that someday all newborns will be examined for spinal fixations within the first month of life. It is overwhelming to think that future cases of scoliosis and migraine could be avoided with early chiropractic intervention. I'll illustrate this point. If a baby has a head tilt at birth that goes uncorrected, when they begin to walk their eyes will naturally correct to the alignment of the horizon, which means that an adaptive curve may develop within the spine, ie. scoliosis. So many kids are diagnosed with idiopathic adolescent scoliosis, which means 'unknown origin'. But is it truly unknown?
We are fortunate to partner with many pediatricians in the Denver area in the best interest of newborns. We receive referrals, provide comprehensive treatment notes, and collaborate on treatment of every infant we treat. Collaborative care is the future of medicine and we are proud to be on the forefront.
Lisa Goodman, DC, CCSP, CACCP is a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP) and Certified Prenatal and Pediatric Chiropractor (CACCP). She is a CrossFit L1 and CrossFit Kids Certified Trainer. Dr. Goodman founded Washington Park Chiropractic in 2006 in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Goodman incorporates sports chiropractic techniques with prenatal and pediatric patients, she teaches mobility and taping classes locally, and is a contributor to POPSUGAR, Urban Life Wash Park and DC Aligned. She is a committee member on the boards of the ACA Pediatrics Council and the ACA Sports Council. Areas of special interest include prenatal care, ankle and wrist injuries, instrument assisted soft tissue techniques, strength training, and pediatric fitness. Stay connected with Dr. Goodman on Instagram @washparkchiro or @lisakgoodman
Hobaek Siegenthaler M. Unresolved Congenital Torticollis and Its Consequences: A Report of 2 Cases. J Chiropr Med. 2017;16(3):257–261. doi:10.1016/j.jcm.2017.05.004