How Safe is Pediatric Chiropractic Care?
There’s a fear that if you take your baby to a chiropractor they’re going to “crack” your baby’s spine. This should NEVER happen. Chiropractors who are trained in pediatric adjusting use extremely gentle “eyeball” pressure that wouldn’t even bruise a tomato because the younger a child is, the more sensitive their Nervous System and the less pressure needed.
In fact, most parents are shocked at how little pressure is used, and how there certainly should never be any twisting or forces that resemble an adult adjustment until the child is much older!
All Chiropractors who are trained to work on infants will totally modify the way they adjust infants and babies, and we have personally adjusted thousands of babies in our offices and not once have we ever been nervous that we are going to hurt the little one in front of us!
There’s actually a mountain of research published showing that chiropractic care for infants and kids is both safe and effective!
This article was provided by a top-rated pediatric chiropractor in Millard, NE. Thank you to Dr. Rodney White of Sarpy Chiropractic! He can be reached at (402) 763-9955.
Pediatric Chiropractic Research
In 2009 Joel Alcantara published in the journal Explore the results of a survey that was run through the ICPA practice-based research. The survey looked at 5500 chiropractic office visits from kids up to the age of 18. There were only 3 adverse events, and all 3 were considered mild and involved soreness or stiffness following the chiropractic adjustment. All 3 cases were self-resolving and all 3 patients continued under care. Even better, the parents in the survey reported a host of improvements in the health and function of their children after receiving chiropractic care, including improvements in pain, mood, and immune function to name a few.
Here is the actual journal article for those who are interested:
Matt Doyle followed up this work in 2011 when he published a review on the safety of pediatric chiropractic care in clinical chiropractic. In this review, he searched the entire scientific literature up to 2010 for any articles that commented on the safety or adverse events in pediatric chiropractic.
He found that approximately 1 in 200 children who see a chiropractor experience 1 mild adverse event - meaning they experienced irritability or soreness that lasted less than a day and required no other treatment to help it resolve.
He also discussed the extremely small number of serious adverse events that have been reported in the literature, but these had been reported more than 30 years ago, and therefore are very difficult to corroborate, and tended to involve technique descriptions that no pediatric trained chiropractor would ever use in this day and age, and they also tended to be in children with significant pre-existing conditions.
So the bottom line from his paper is that modern pediatric chiropractic care is extremely safe, with no serious adverse events, and only 1 in 100-200 reporting mild soreness or irritability for less than 1 day.
So the next time you hear someone say Chiropractic is dangerous for kids, ask them to provide you with some research to back up their claims because it simply doesn't exist. And if a medical professional states that they “see lots of injuries from chiropractors” ask them why they don’t report it so that the scientific community can study actual outcomes?
More recently in 2014, Angela Todd published a paper in The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapies about the adverse events due to manipulative therapy from chiropractors and others in children.
In her review she found only 7 serious adverse events in all of the literature as far back as it goes (the same 7 Matt Doyle found) and the common-sense conclusion she came to is that if a chiropractor adapts their technique to suit the age and anatomy of the patient then serious adverse events are extremely unlikely to occur.
Here is her conclusion:
Published cases of serious adverse events in infants and children receiving chiropractic, osteopathic, physiotherapy, or manual medical therapy are rare. The 3 deaths that have been reported were associated with various manual therapists; however, no deaths associated with chiropractic care were found in the literature to date. Because underlying preexisting pathology was associated in a majority of reported cases, performing a thorough history and examination to exclude anatomical or neurologic anomalies before applying any manual therapy may further reduce adverse events across all manual therapy professions.
Here is the link to her study:
So let's summarize what the research shows when it comes to the safety of Chiropractic for kids and infants:
- Researchers reviewed all literature related to adverse events in chiropractic care to see how common adverse events are in our younger patients.
- They found that adverse events are very rare, and generally very mild meaning short periods of muscle soreness that resolve on their own in less than 24 hours and don’t need any other intervention to help.
- About 1 in every 200 younger patients report feeling mild muscle soreness or stiffness after a chiropractic adjustment.
- Serious adverse events are extremely rare and tend to occur when pre-existing health issues exist and where the chiropractor didn’t modify their technique appropriately to suit the age and anatomy.
So, parents can feel extremely secure in the knowledge that Chiropractic care for children and infants is very safe compared to all other health care options. This is especially true when a proper history and exam are taken, and the Chiropractor modified their technique to suit the age of the patient.
Of course, risks do exist, but when modern Chiropractic care is applied it is very safe to all members of society irrespective of their age. All studies have limitations, including that not all adverse events are reported and therefore don’t make the literature so trying to understand the true safety of any health care treatment is challenging. But rest assured our profession is doing a great job trying to measure the absolute true safety and risks, and it continues to be safer than any other interventions for your infants and kids.