Friday, February 3, 2012

How Can A Chiropractor Help My Fussy Baby? by Nick Messe

A fussy or colicky baby that is otherwise healthy may benefit from chiropractic treatment. Colic is defined as unrelenting crying by infants, particularly newborn to 3 months of age, for more than 3 hours a day, over 3 days a week, and over the course of more 3 weeks. The cause of colic is still unknown by the medical community. Chiropractors propose that colic may be a symptom of vertebral subluxation resulting from birth.

Fewer than 5 percent of babies with inconsolable crying are found to have organic causes for their crying. Indigestion, constipation, ear infections, acid reflux, urinary tract infections, and lung or heart conditions are all possible causes that should be investigated. However, most babies show no known underlying medical conditions and outgrow their colic without treatment by the time they reach 4 months. This fact could point to a cause of colic rooted in nervous system development shortly after birth.

An infant's body undergoes tremendous compression and stretching while it passes through the mother's birth canal. A long pushing phase during labor, use of vacuum extraction or forceps, or otherwise difficult birth can cause misalignment of the infant's back vertebrae. Even the delivery doctor's well-meaning pulling and twisting hands can contribute to vertebral subluxation in the newborn. The misaligned vertebrae then pinch surrounding nerves, compromising nervous system integrity and causing muscles to lock.

Muscle locking and lack of nervous system integrity lead directly to discomfort, poor bodily function and ill health. For example, the baby's digestive system may be negatively affected by spinal misalignment, resulting in poor digestion of breast milk or formula. The baby's muscles may become very tense and the head may show abnormal posture, interfering with nursing. The baby may feel considerable head and neck pain.

Common outward signs of infant spinal misalignment are high-pitched screams, a flushed face, furrowed forehead, arching back, pulling of legs toward the abdomen, and clenching fists. Crying often occurs late afternoon or early evening and lasts for hours. Desperate attempts to sooth or feed the infant prove ineffective. Fortunately, a visit to a chiropractic clinic can result in the quick location and adjustment of spinal distortions, even in babies.

Parents may believe chiropractors to be no more than glorified massage therapists. They may be concerned that spinal adjustment will hurt their baby. However, a chiropractor uses no more finger pressure on an infant than one would use to test a tomato's ripeness. Misalignments are usually immediately apparent as they are often tender to the touch. Immediate relaxation and relief of the baby may be observed. The restoration of nervous system control lets the baby's body function properly again, relieving symptoms, including colic and fussiness.

In October 1999, The Journal of Manipulative and Physiologic Therapeutics published a randomized controlled study of spinal manipulation versus treatment with the drug dimethicone for colicky babies. The babies who received spinal manipulation showed a 67% decrease in crying after 2 weeks, while the babies receiving the drug had only a 38% reduction.