Chiropractic Care For The Smallest Of Patients
Many adults go to chiropractors for a crack of the back or a pop of the hip. But some parents are taking their infants and toddlers with them. Parents seeking alternative treatments to common childhood ailments such as colic, constipation and ear infections are turning to chiropractors.
Dr. Greg Muchnij has been adjusting infants and toddlers for almost 30 years. Today, his 9-month-old granddaughter Mila is coming in for an adjustment with her mother Janessa Foley.
"Mila’s probably had about, probably ten adjustments," Foley said.
And her first adjustment was at the hospital — on the day she was born.
"Being born isn’t the easiest thing on your body, so it’s nice to make sure everything is working," Foley said.
Foley carries Mila to a nearby table where she lies down face up. She places Mila on her chest and Muchnij begins to press his fingertips into her back.
"Now I’m actually feeling her thoracic spine and lumbar spine. It’s like a slinky, when I push down on a spring I want to feel to give, it's like a cushion or a sponge. I push down there should be give," he said. "You’ve got to be fast when you’re working with babies."
There’s no popping or cracking, and no crying baby. In fact, the adjustment is so split second it's hard to tell if he's done it.
"I did," Muchnij said. "Just by holding a very light contact there and now one more right in here, just really light, barely the weight of my finger on a key area there to help the brain and spine to realign."
Muchnij describes his technique as a tonal approach. Unlike traditional chiropractic methods, he uses a light touch to, as he puts it, reset the tension in the spinal cord.
"It’s like you’re tuning up a guitar or violin," he said.
In a statement, The American Chiropractic Association said all doctors of chiropractic are taught to diagnose and manage pediatric patients in the doctoral training.
"There’s never been any science that shows adjustments will prevent or correct a spinal deformity," said Dr. Greg White, the division chief of orthopedic surgery at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
He doesn’t advise adjusting infants because they are already so malleable. He also has another concern.
"There is a school of thought out there that if you have your infant manipulated then you will not require vaccinations against various communicable diseases, which there’s basically no scientific proof that any of that stuff is legitimate," he said.
But that doesn’t always matter to parents.
"They don’t want a drug intervention or more toxins being put into their body, especially when you look at how many vaccines a baby receiving so many, so early on," Munchnij said.
However not all parents who take their kids to a chiropractor fall into that camp. Some have simply run out of options.
Mason Heilmeid is a shy 3-year-old boy. His mother Katie Heilmeid said her son has had chronic GI tract issues since he was 15 months old. He also wasn’t sleeping through the night. Visits to the pediatrician, blood draws and lab tests …
"And there was no change," Heilmeid said. "So the doctor’s like ok, we’re going to be more strict with the diet, we’re going to take away more things, we’re going to add more supplements, increase the one’s he’s already on and test him again. So it was very disheartening."
Three visits to Muchnij later and…
"... He sleeps, which was huge. He hasn’t slept through the night. Ever," Heilmeid said. "Let alone, a whole week right now, he slept every single night. He eats more. He wants to eat more whereas before it was like please, please eat. I need you to eat."
Heilmeid said she will continue to follow her pediatrician’s recommendations, but she plans to continue their visits to Muchnij.