Has your child’s spine been checked?
Having your child’s spine checked for problems is important – perhaps more so than having your children’s teeth checked for cavities. While we do not wish to irresponsibly or unprofessionally scare parents into bringing their children in for spinal checkups, we do feel it is our responsibility to inform parents about the importance and value of appropriate spinal care. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment for your child or perhaps have questions, we welcome you to call and schedule a consultation or request to speak directly to the doctor – we believe your child’s health is worth it.
Spinal Curve Development
The shape of the spine at birth is similar to the shape of the letter “C”. At around the age of 3 months, as the baby raises it’s head, the cervical spine gains it’s “lordosis” or reversed “C” shape curve. Around 6 months of age, the infant adopts a seated and standing posture and the lower back – lumbar spine – also becomes lordotic or “C” shaped in nature.
Spinal Length and Growth
At birth, the spinal column comprises 40% of the total length of the infant – identical to the adult. However, the average length of the spinal column in the newborn is just 24 cm or 9.6 inches. The spinal column grows 50% in length during the baby’s first year of life. Over the following 4 years the spine will continue to grow another 15 cm reaching a length of 51 cm or 20.4 inches. From ages 5-10, the spine grows an additional 10 cm. Once puberty is reached and until the age of 18 the spine will typically grow another 20 cm in males and 15 cm in females.
In a recent study, 1178 school children were surveyed and back pain was found to be cumulatively prevalent in more than 50%. Adolescents who participate in sports experience a higher incidence of back problems due to the excessive spinal loading which accompanies most sports. Similar to adults, chiropractors obtain excellent results treating back pain in children and adolescents. Chiropractic care in children and adolescents is safe, effective, and focuses on treating the cause of their discomfort rather than masking symptoms. Many of our most satisfied patients are children and adolescents.
Scoliosis in the Child
Scoliosis is the lateral deviation (sideways curving) of the spine and commonly affects children and adolescents. 4% of children aged 10-14 have detectable scoliosis. 60-80% of those affected are girls. While most cases of childhood and adolescent scoliosis stop progressing once spinal maturity is reached, progression of the curve past spinal maturity is not common.
Since the abnormal curvature may not be obvious upon inspection of the back, even to the trained eye, an uneven shoulder height or clothes not appearing to hang off the body symmetrically may be the first indication. Also, a complaint of back pain, ache, discomfort or fatigue may be present.
However, this does not generally occur until later stages after the spinal ligaments and muscles have been chronically irritated. If the lateral curvature continues to progress, cardiovascular compromise can result – ultimately leading to severe disability or death.
Infantile – Infantile scoliosis is a lateral spine deviation occurring during the first 3 years of life and is twice as common in males. Approximately 74-97% resolve on their own but those that do progress do so in a severe and disabling manner. This condition is, however, rare in North America.
Juvenile – Juvenile scoliosis refers to scoliosis occurring in children aged 3 until the age of puberty – approximately 10 years of age. Juvenile scoliosis can continue to progress in severity. If progression occurs without appropriate treatment severe spinal deformity and cardiovascular compromise can result.
Adolescent – Adolescent scoliosis is scoliosis detected in those who have reached puberty but have yet to reach adulthood. This is the most common type of idiopathic scoliosis (unknown cause). Progression and future health problems can occur.
Chiropractic is helpful in treating children suffering from conditions such as