“They are so young why would they need adjusted?” “I don’t think they have back pain so why would they need to go to a chiropractor?” I hear questions like this frequently. To answer them, let’s start at the beginning. In this case, at the beginning of their life outside of the womb.
In most cases the trip into the world isn’t all that easy. Certainly there are fast “easy” births, but very often that is not the case. The baby’s head is pulled on and often twisted to get the shoulders out, suction can be used or forceps. Many think a C-section is better but in my experience that is not the case.
When a baby is in the womb they are essentially in a zero gravity chamber. Their muscles do not develop against gravity and that’s why they can’t hold their head up until they are a little older. The same neck that can’t support a head is the same neck that gets pulled and twisted on during the birth process.
If the muscles aren’t strong, all the stress is on bones, joints, and ligaments. The most common and easily injured area is the upper neck. The bones are very small and due to the need to have great range of motion they are very freely movable. This makes them susceptible to injury and misalignment.
The top 2 bones in the neck, called the atlas and the axis (c1 and c2), are very different anatomically than any other bones in the spine. The rest of the bones have a spacer between them you know as a disc. This disc also helps to stabilize and strengthen the joint between the vertebrae.
In the upper neck between the top 2 bones there is not a disc, the joints are very flat and they are the smallest bones in the spine. These 3 factors make them very delicate and relatively easy to injure and misalign.
Does my OB or Pediatrician not look for this?
While they certainly check to make sure you have a happy healthy baby a spinal misalignment isn’t something they generally look for. They may notice a very large misaligment but most are small and can only be found through a specific exam of the upper neck.
Are there potential signs to look for?
We have all heard parents say that their baby only looks to the right, only breastfeeds on one side, or lays with their head off to one side. All of these issues can be caused by an upper neck misalignment. If the bone isn’t moving properly it can show in posture and movement.
How important is normal alignment and movement?
A large part of early brain development is influenced by proper movement. The same area of the brain that coordinates movement also deals with higher level thinking. Proper input from sensors in the cervical muscles is important for this area to develop correctly. It is also important for the development of the spinal curves as babies crawl and eventually walk.
Most importantly a properly functioning nervous system is vital in good health. The upper cervical spine is at the critical juncture where the brain(stem) and spinal cord meet. A misalignment at this level can affect the entire body since all the nerves must pass through this area on the way to their destination.
Not every child born has an upper neck issue but it is likely a higher percentage than you may realize. This area is so important why not get them checked just to be safe and prevent future problems? Like most things, it is much easier to correct a problem the earlier you address it.
Dr. Lee Angle
Dr. Lee Angle is originally from southern West Virginia. After having his life changed through Upper Cervical Care he chose to pursue it as a career. He has been practicing Upper Cervical Chiropractic for over nine years. Dr. Angle previously worked as a certified personal trainer. This background allows him to educate his patients on proper movement and exercises to speed their recovery and enhance their Upper Cervical Care.