by Tracey Roizman, DC
The practice of spinal manipulation has historically been part of many cultures throughout the world, in some places dating back hundreds, even thousands of years. In fact, the term “Ortho-Paedics” originated in 1727, when it was used to describe manual and other procedures to correct asymmetries of the spine and skeletal structure of children.
Children are ideal candidates for the healing benefits offered by gentle chiropractic corrective care. This is not surprising, considering the physical stress incurred during birth followed by the rapid growth of childhood and the inherent routine bumps, falls and other activities that define this part of life. Aches and pains that we attribute in adulthood to the inevitable effects of aging are often the result of spinal and bodily misalignments that originate in childhood and go uncorrected for decades. Or not at all.
Interestingly, the primary reason parents bring their children for chiropractic care these days in this country is for help with an ailment that, at first might not seem to be directly related to the spine. The problem is recurring ear infections.
Few of us get through childhood without experiencing some of its typical ailments. Statistically, 75% of children have at least one bout with ear infection by the time they are three. The reason is part anatomy and part immunity. The developing structure of the child’s ear combined with their immature immune system make them uniquely susceptible to this common condition.
In babies and young children, the eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear and the throat, and serves to equalize pressure and drain fluids, takes a more horizontal than vertical course. As the child grows the eustachian tube changes shape, becoming more vertically aligned and this forms a more efficient system for drainage. Until then, young children are susceptible to fluid accumulating in the ear. When fluid accumulates in a closed space, the result is pain pressure and infection.
The young child’s developing immune system encounters new challenges on a daily basis. Normally, illness does not result. The effect is a mild runny nose or simply a day of uncharacteristic sluggishness. When a child does get sick their immune response can be quite dramatic. Sudden high fevers and other severe symptoms make children and parents equally anxious for quick relief.
The use of antibiotics to provide this relief has become standard practice. However, antibiotics can complicate the situation by killing healthy bacteria and suppressing the child’s immune system. This increases susceptibility to recurrences of infection and additional courses of antibiotics.
We in the U.S. have been particularly enamored of antibiotics and often rush to use them prematurely. Some cases of otitis media are not infections at all, but simply accumulations of watery fluid causing pressure and pain. As a result the rates of antibiotic resistance in this country are significantly higher than in other places. 25% of strep. pneumoniae cases are now antibiotic resistant compared to .002% ten years ago.
Chiropractic therapy has helped many families get through this phase of life healthier than they otherwise could with conventional medicine. Children respond remarkably quickly to natural chiropractic care. In many cases a series of 5 to 8 adjustments is sufficient to make the patient pain free, infection free and most importantly less likely to relapse.
What do spinal adjustments do for ear infections? There are small muscles in the throat and around the eustachian tube that control activities such as swallowing and talking and also the opening and closing of the Eustachian tube. Adjustments to the cervical spine help to normalize nerve flow to these small muscles. By calming tight constricted muscles, the eustachian tube is allowed to open, allowing fluid and pressure to drain.
What are you missing if you don’t go the route of antibiotics? Progressively more serious illnesses can result. A child whose immune system is suppressed by repeated antibiotic use has a vital internal colony of beneficial bacteria that is practically non- existent. They are vulnerable to developing conditions such as allergies, asthma, and pneumonia without this protection
Allergies occur as a secondary effect of antibiotic use because, in addition to destroying the normal flora, antibiotics also damage the delicate lining of the intestinal tract. Large proteins and other partially digested food particles are then able to pass through the intestinal membrane and enter the bloodstream where they are attacked by the immune system.
The respiratory system is similarly affected. Allergic responses lead to constriction of breathing passages and the symptoms of asthma. Also, the respiratory system has its own normal colony of beneficial bacteria which when disturbed can lead to respiratory allergies and asthma.
In recent years emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria has become an important public health concern. The less we rely on antibiotics the better. A lot can be accomplished with some good guidance, some health-promoting care, including chiropractic adjustments and a few small dietary and/or lifestyle changes. The cycle of antibiotic dependence can be broken and a strong healthy child can emerge.