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Setting kids’ health straight

by Reid Pierce Armstrong

Many people think of chiropractors as being for the aches and pains that we feel as we age, from playing sports in our teens to working hunched over computers in our adulthood. But, some say young children can benefit just as much, if not more, from regular chiropractic treatments. 

As the mother of 4-year-old twins, Stephanie Reeves of Kilmarnock has spent her fair share of time in the waiting room of the pediatrician’s office. From colds to stomach bugs, her children have had it all. Last winter, Reeves recalls struggling for two straight months with an ear infection that just wouldn’t clear up.

Dr. Matt Shifflet of Pure n’ Simple Family Chiropractic adjusts 4-year-old Mary Logan Hill.

“As a parent, it is tough when your kids are sick. It means days off from work, not to mention the misery our kids feel when they are sick and we can’t help them,” Reeves said.

This year, something has been different.

Mary Logan and Andrew have started seeing Dr. Matt Shifflet of Pure n’ Simple Family Chiropractic in Kilmarnock for treatments on a regular basis, and since the new routine started, they’ve only been to the pediatrician once, for a case of strep throat.

“My kids have not been as sick this winter as they usually are, and nothing has changed around them except the chiropractic visits,” Reeves said. “Kids are still sick all around them, but with the first sniffle, we go right up to the chiropractor’s office to rule out any spinal abnormalities so their little immune systems are at their best and, so far, it has been great.”

Reeves, a massage therapist, has always appreciated the benefits of chiropractic visits. Her children had their first visit to Dr. Jeems Love of Northern Neck Chiropractic in Kilmarnock shortly after they were born.

“Childbirth can be quite traumatic on an infant,” Dr. Love said.

There is now evidence that complications in the birthing process may be a leading cause of colic, he added. A vertebrae can easily become misaligned as the baby is forced through the birth canal, placing pressure on the nerves that connect the brain to the digestive tract and causing pain.

Good chiropractic care can include regular adjustments, physical exercises, good posture and even healthy backpacks like the Airpacks Dr. John Lemon promotes at Family Chiropractic in Saluda. The packs have inflatable shoulder straps and lumbar support for even weight distribution.

“We have had great success treating colic with very minor adjustments. A parent will walk in at their wits end with a crying baby. We will make a small adjustment, and sometime the results are instant,” Dr. Love said.

Even Cesaeran sections can cause childbirth injuries, said Dr. John Lemon of Family Chiropractic in Saluda.

“A lot of people think when women have c-sections the magic door opens and the babies fly out. It’s actually more damaging to children than they thought originally,” said Dr. Lemon.

It’s not only birth trauma that’s an issue. A lot of the bumps, bangs and spills that toddlers take as they are learning to walk can cause spinal sublimations that lead to a weakened immune system, said Dr. Lemon.

In the past few decades, chiropractic care has grown in popularity as a result of the success that chiropractic doctors have had, not only in treating aches and pains but in improving many other chronic illnesses as well. Their successes have caught the attention of many in the medical field, from the traditional physicians who work in tandem with them to the insurance companies who are offering increasing coverage for chiropractic treatment. Even the military now enlists chiropractors to help ease the back pains of their soldiers, said Dr. Lemon.

“Mary Logan and Andrew (above with Dr. Shifflet) actually ask to go when something doesn’t feel right in their bodies,” says mother Stephanie Reeves.

In children, chiropractic treatments have been successful in treating colitis, headaches, hyperactivity, bed wetting, asthma and allergies, in addition to improving posture.

“Treating children is very different than treating adults,” Dr. Lemon said. “A gentle fingertip manipulation is typically all that’s needed.”

The reason that chiropractic treatment works on such a variety of maladies is that even minor adjustments to the spine can relieve pressure on the body’s central nervous system, which is connected to every major organ in the body. A headache or a stomach ache may actually stem from a problem in the spine.

A recent study by Dr. Ron Pero of the NYU School of Medicine concluded that people who pursued regular chiropractic treatments for any reason had immune systems that were 200 percent stronger than those who had never been to a chiropractor.

For Stephanie Reeves, the difference has been remarkable: “Mary Logan and Andrew actually ask to go when something doesn’t feel right in their bodies. Even at four years old they know their bodies better than most adults I see as a massage therapist. Regular chiropractic care this winter has kept their immune systems strong. We have not had any ear infections since they have been getting adjusted regularly.”

posted 02.26.2009

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