Torticollis, Chiropractic, Infants and Kids

Children's Chiropractic Care

For an infant in pain, it is not unusual for an hour or two to be the maximum sleep period between crying spells. This can go on for months, and in some cases a year or more. Yet in many cases, these infants find immediately restful sleep for periods of up to 20 hours following one chiropractic adjustment.

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was 1972, and I was a night-shift student-clinician at the free clinic in New York City. It was midnight, and we were about to get off duty when a couple brought in an infant girl that was literally screaming. She had been this way for months. The crying stopped only for an hour or two while taking milk or sleeping fitfully. She has been through every imaginable medical test, nothing was found wrong, and her parents were told she had colic. They were at their wits end and had come to see the clinic director who had a reputation throughout the city for helping infants with colic.

He examined her carefully, with extreme attention to her upper neck where it joins her skull. He told the parents that their baby was suffering from a subluxation of the atlas vertebra (the first vertebra at the top of the neck). A subluxation is a slight misalignment of the vertebra, perhaps knocked out of position during a tough forceps delivery. He said it needed to e adjusted, it would not hurt, and it would definitely help. They agreed to the treatment.

Just imagine the drama in the mind of a young student clinician. It was late at night. The infant girl was tiny, fragile, and almost asphyxiated from the high-pitched screaming. The parents were exhausted, worried sick over their daughter and scared to death of the treatment itself. All the out-patients had left, and only the young clinicians, including me, were in the clinic, silent. Tired, but as anxious as the parents about what was going to happen next.

Indeed the clinic director was experienced and skilled in treating infants. After his palpation, he carefully laid the baby on her side on the headpiece of the treatment table. He places his hand exactly onto her tiny atlas vertebra and delivered a precise thrust with lightning speed. Even though the adjustment was light and painless, it seemed to me that the headpiece, the table, the baby, both parents, and all our nerves reverberated. I was aghast wondering if the baby was all right.

She continued to scream as the doctor placed her over on her back, covered her with a small blanket, and had her mother comfort her as best she could. Clinic was now over and we could all go home to study. But we all stayed. About 20 minutes after the adjustment, the baby is screaming slowed to a cry, then to a light moaning sound.  After 10 more minutes she fell into a deep sleep.

She never woke up as she was transported to her room and placed into a tiny hospital bed with her parents huddled around her. She was checked hourly and continued to sleep, almost comatose, for the next 21 hours. When she finally woke up, she did not cry and wanted some milk. After the feeding, her parents were instructed to take her home, call if any problems occurred, and to return to the clinic in 48 hours. The baby did wonderfully, rarely crying, slowly returning to natural eating and sleeping patterns. Over the course of the next 30 days, she needed one more adjustment, then nothing else. Her problem has been resolved.

Babies Can Need an Adjustment

That night in the dimly lit clinic carried so many lessons for me. It proved that subluxations do exist( many doctors do not believe that). It proved that if the problem is subluxation, nothing else will resolve the problem but the proper adjustment. And it proved that coaxing an infant’s misaligned vertebrae back into position can be highly beneficial.

How can you tell if your infant or child needs an adjustment? The most common sign is when your infant or child has health problems that cannot be diagnosed and never get resolved with standard pediatric treatment. Some classics in infants include a persistent head tilt (torticollis), poor head control, asymmetrical crawling, delayed walking, constant crying, and/or poor balance. Some classics in children are chronic headaches, jaw problems, neck and upper back pain, sleep apnea, poor sleeping habits, low energy, and “being in a fog”. And kids are notorious for developing torticollis or what we used to call wry neck. If your child or grandchild wakes up in severe pain with his head pulled drastically to one side, this torticollis.

Over the years I’ve learned that one of the most frightening problems a kid can have—acute torticollis—is almost always caused by an axis (the 2nd vertebrae in your neck) subluxation. I’ve been called many times in the night to care for a child whose head is drawn almost down to one shoulder, and who is in such pain that it hurts if you even speak in the same room. In just about every single one of these cases, the hardest part of correcting it is getting the child to lay face down on the table with his head cradled in the split head piece. This is usually done very slowly, carefully and delicately.

After that, it simply a matter of determining which way the axis is subluxated, and making the corrective adjustment. I use an activator instrument which delivers a precise, fast, and completely painless (even in torticollis cases) thrust to axis. Because this adjustment is painless, it can be used even on kids in severe pain. If you want to find an Activator chiropractor near you, call 602-224-0220, tell them you heard about Activator from me, and see they have a nearby referral doctor. When these kids are adjusted properly, they are generally better overnight, whereas torticollis treated traditionally (medically) can go on for days, weeks, or months.

So remember that childbirth, falls, accidents, and trauma in infants and kids can lead to a subluxation. And in most cases that do not self-correct, the right adjustment is needed. Ask your friends who they take their kids to.  You can usually find a pediatric (specially trained) chiropractor in your town. Left uncorrected, serious subluxations can lead to chronic and even permanent and painful problems.

And Sometimes They Are Just Starving

Ten years ago a woman with five kids saw my infant son crying and casually said to my wife, “it’s all about food”. For those cases of “colic” or constant crying that are not caused by a subluxation, it is almost always all about food—or the lack of nutrition in the food. My wife was extremely healthy and had ample milk. But for our son, something was missing in Mom’s milk.

We turned to the mothering experts at the Weston. A. Price Foundation. They told us about the traditional formula. This is a raw-milk formula, hand-made, and mixed with many ingredients, including homemade whey, several oils, cream, raw milk and more. From the second night after starting the traditional formula, my son became happy and crying stopped. My thoughts were that if my wife’s milk may be deficient. Hence the epidemic of “colic”, which is not a disease but in 9 out of 10 cases, simply a crying out in pain or hunger. And the hunger can become near-starvation, even in the midst of abundant milk.

So if you have infants, kids or grandkids who need help, remember the night in the clinic, and colic caused by starvation. Go to the Weston A. Price website and find the traditional formula. Get the ingredients and mix it up. You’ll feel like a mad chemist, but it works. And if your kids need an adjustment, get him or her to a skilled pediatric chiropractic. Your baby, infant, or child will be happy you did. And you will finally sleep well, knowing you have resolved the real underlying cause of the problem.