Chiropractic care for children can be likened to dental care for kids: just as regular checkups with the dentist can help prevent cavities, regular checkups with the chiropractor can help prevent problems in the spine. It should come as no surprise, then, to learn that doctors of chiropractic are well-trained to examine, diagnose and manage infants and children.
When it comes to treatment, children's health can be influenced by numerous factors that lend themselves to chiropractic care. Physical injuries, for example, are common in childhood. If not treated properly, these injuries can lead to muscle imbalances, where some muscles become tight while others become weak. In other cases, injuries can cause subluxations and spinal joint dysfunction, which can affect spinal biomechanics and other bodily functions.
Another area for early chiropractic care is posture-related disorders. A growing source of patient visits to chiropractic offices, these are often born out of poor childhood habits. Thus, correcting poor posture and promoting good spinal hygiene in children is of utmost importance to your chiropractor. Your chiropractor will also routinely check for the development of scoliosis; should it be discovered, a plan of management will be introduced and this may warrant a medical referral.
The actual treatment of children is extremely gentle, as chiropractors perform adjustments to children with much less force than they do to adults. Your chiropractor may use his or her hands or, like many chiropractors, choose to adjust children using an activator tool.
As with children, the examination and treatment of teenagers is of critical importance to chiropractors. During puberty, numerous changes taking place in a teen's body can place significant demands on muscles, joints and bones. During this period, bones tend to grow fast while muscles grow slowly by comparison. These changes can cause muscle imbalances, subluxations and injuries.
The transition from teen to adult also brings significant changes to actual bone structure and composition. Before the teen years, many bones in the body are soft and flexible. This is because much of the bone is actually made of cartilage. As a teenager, the cartilage hardens into true bone. During this period, the bones and associated ligaments are more vulnerable to fractures, strains and sprains. Therefore, the detection of subluxations and associated muscle imbalances can be helpful in the prevention, restoration and maintenance of health.
Adults are by far the most frequent consumers of chiropractic health care. This is not surprising. For many, fast-paced lifestyles have led to an alarming increase in stress and stress-related disorders. Muscle, nerve and joint dysfunction are common manifestations that often produce lower back, neck and headache symptoms.
In addition to stress, lack of physical exercise leaves many adults vulnerable to injuries. Injuries are often caused by repetitive movements, either in the workplace or at home. Less frequently, injuries can be caused by sudden falls. In either case, without regular exercise, adult bodies will be less forgiving, yielding to injuries much more easily than children's. Regardless of the injury, joint dysfunction, subluxation and muscle imbalance can occur.
Lack of exercise also leads to changes in posture. The extent of these changes depends largely on what people do for a living. All activities, though, can lead to imbalances in the neck, back and upper torso that weaken some muscles and tighten others. These imbalances will cause the head to point forward, the upper back to slump and the shoulders to tip lazily forward. Over time, joints are stressed, muscles become tighter and serious symptoms develop.
In North America, many chiropractors routinely visit retirement homes with their portable tables and offer chiropractic care. Many hospitals in the US that focus on treating the elderly have also incorporated chiropractic care into their health-care team. It's easy to see why.
As we get older, wear-and-tear on our joints begins to manifest. This is commonly called osteoarthritis, which is like rust to our joints. It may cause pain and limit one's range-of-motion. Chiropractic care has been shown to have an impact in alleviating pain associated with this degenerative process as well as restoring function, mobility and overall health.
But chiropractic treatment for seniors is not limited to arthritis. Chiropractors can also address nutrition, depression, exercise and other health concerns. A chiropractor can help monitor osteoporosis, for example. Or, he or she can rule out more serious causes of low back pain in men, which can be caused by an enlarged prostate. Even where an appropriate referral may be the end result, a chiropractor can be an integral part of any older person's health-care team.