Episode 13: Six Silent Signs of Subluxation

Signs for children to see a chiropractor

The most common question I get as a pediatric chiropractor is, how do I know when my child needs chiropractic care? What are symptoms, signs, and behavior changes that a parent should be aware of to know when it’s time to get checked? 

Subluxation is a slight misalignment of the vertebrae, regarded in chiropractic theory as the cause of many health problems. In other words, your brain and nervous system control everything in your body and it’s primary connection is the spine, or as I like to call “dino bone”s. When the spine is crooked and not properly aligned, it shuts down the power from the brain to the body = subluxation. Chiropractic treatments help get the power moving again throughout the whole system so that you and your children can feel better. 

In littles, they may not have the words to explain their pain or discomfort, they just know they don’t feel well. Here are the top signs a parent needs to watch for to know when to get the nervous system operating correctly again and feel better. 

  1. Difficulty Sleeping – Tossing and turning, trouble getting comfortable in bed, night terrors, nightmares, maybe your little one falls asleep in your arms and little noises startle them. The inability to rest and relax flags the body’s fight or flight responses. If sleep is a problem, it’s time to get checked. 
  2. Poor Posture – This is a daily battle for adults and children. Using tablets, cell phones, watching movies & TV, playing video games – the overall posture in adults and children is deteriorating quickly. Being bent over and hunched causes children’s heads to have sometimes 3 feet over the front of their body (also known as slumping). Ask your children if it hurts when they try to sit up straight. Or if they respond with “I can’t”. Poor posture can cause long-term adult age issues like arthritis so getting into a chiropractor early is a proactive approach to avoid long-term effects from bad posture. 
  3. Weak Immune System – Do you find your little ones catching every little bug? Maybe from playdates or daycare, having multiple ear infections to ear tubes, and feel like you constantly fighting cold symptoms? In 2009 a study was published showing that regular chiropractic care can improve overall immune systems. Resulting in adults and children feeling better, getting better sleep, and in a better mood. Chiropractors help the immune system because of ensuring signals get delivered to the brain to power the immune system. Chiropractic care helps support the immune system so it functions the best it can.
  4. Behavioral Problems – Do you suspect your child is having symptoms similar to ADHD, hyperactive disorders, or always seems to be on alert? These are signs that the nervous system is out of balance. The body’s reaction to go go go, always moving, no off switch – is the nervous system’s way of fight or flighting irregularities and moves away from allowing the body to rest and digest. Chiropractic care looks at other imbalances in the nervous system to help the brain to body connection and make necessary improvements to help your body’s machine perform better.
  5. Respiratory or Food Allergies – Allergic reactions come from the body overreacting from its normal state sending the nerves from the spine to muscles, to organs, to glands, to overreact. For example, if your child doesn’t have a lot of middle back movement when trying to have better posture, those nerves that reach the lungs could be compromised, and a chiropractor can help turn on those connections and help with the breathing and coughing to boost their system.
  6. Digestion and Elimination Problems – This is very common with newborn to 3-months old and is the biggest sign they are able to show. When the body cannot rest and digest and produce at least 1 bowel movement per day, this can mean that their nervous system is a little anxious. How often are they pooping? Do they have colic, are they spitting up? As kids get older they may have frequent stomach aches. The stomach shouldn’t hurt unless you have eaten too much ice cream. Regular meals shouldn’t hurt your stomach, this is a sign the nervous system needs help and support. 


For more information and to find a chiropractor that specializes in pediatrics, visit ICPAforkids.com.


Research Articles: 

Alcantara, J, Ohm, J, Kunz, D. The safety and effectiveness of Pediatric Chiropractic: A survey of chiropractors and parents in a Practice-Based Research Network. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing. Volume 5, Issue 5, Pages 290-295, September/October 2009. doi:10.1016/j.explore.2009.06.002

Alcantara, J, Davis, J. The chiropractic care of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a retrospective case series. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing. Volume 6, Issue 3, Pages 173-182, May 2010.

“The successful chiropractic care of pediatric patients with chronic constipation: A case study and selective review of the literature,” Clinical Chiropractic (2008) 11, 138-147.

“The chiropractic care of infants with colic: a systematic review of the literature.” Explore (NY). 2011 May-Jun;7(3):168-74. doi: 10.1016/j. explore.2011.02.00.


Hello mamas This is Dr. Elyssa Wright, and I am so excited to be back again with you this week. So today we are going to talk about a question I get asked pretty regularly in my practice is, “How do I know if my kid needs chiropractic? What are the symptoms I should look for? What types of behavior things? What types of changes? When do they need to get checked?”

So today we’re going to go over what it is that as a chiropractor I am looking for in your littles. And then we’re going to talk about the six top signs that your littles might be showing that they need to get checked by a chiropractor.

So, one chiropractic what we look for is called a subluxation. And what that means is when. So how I like to think of it is that your brain and your nervous system control everything that goes through your body, and from your brain, your spinal cord comes down your back, so I always explain it as you know your dinosaur bones on the back, that’s where your nervous system and your spinal cord come down through when those dinosaur bones are crooked and not lined up the right way it shuts down the power from your brain to the bed rest of your body, your muscles your organs your glands. So chiropractic we look for all those areas of shutdowns which we call subluxation, and we get them moving the right way again so that way the power from your brain can be strong and the light bulb turned on through your whole system. So, within our littles, you know as adults we tend to feel pain that’s usually our cue from our nervous system that something is wrong we either get headaches or neck pain or hurt, elbows or knees or ankles. But our littles don’t. That’s not their first sign, so they’re not going to be complaining about pain they don’t really have the words or the that’s not the first way that their nervous system goes. So we’re going to talk about is the six signs that you can go as a parent: “Hey maybe their nervous system does need a little bit of support.”

And that first sign is sleep difficulty. So if your little maybe tosses and turns, doesn’t seem to ever be able to get comfortable, is waking up with night terrors or nightmares, screaming bloody murder in the middle of the night. Just sleep has always been a problem, or maybe they’re the type of little that they need to fall asleep in your arms and any type of slight jostling or movement wakes them wide awake. All those are signs that the nervous systems is under a little bit of stress. So how our nervous system works is we have two pieces of that puzzle. We have a rest and digest piece, and then we have a go go go fight or flight. So with sleep, and an inability to relax and kind of sink into sleeping. It’s a signal for me that their nervous system might not be balanced and might be pushing a little bit more towards that fight or flight and awake and anxiety and go go go. So that’s one of the first signals that I always tell my parents to check if all of a sudden sleep goes weird, then nervous system might be out of balance and it’s a good time to go get their backs checked out.

Number two is posture. So I know we’ve talked a lot about posture over the course of a few of these episodes, and it’s really something that all of us are working on a fighting battle against. With the tablets that our littles are starting to use as soon as they start into school, the cell phones, the movies, the TVs, the games. We’re starting to notice that the overall posture is really deteriorating quickly. They might be bent over, hunched. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed you look over and your little ones head is like three feet in front of the rest of their body because they’re just slumped. So when you see them slumped and a good question I always like to ask, especially my older ones is: “Does it hurt when you sit up straight?” Because a lot of the time if there’s a spot stuck in the middle of the back, it will actually hurt for them to sit up. Or they might say like “No, I just can’t know, this is where I’m going to be.” So all of those are little cues that their posture might need to be evaluated over time as they grow if those segments aren’t moving the right way. They can run into problems as adults with degeneration early, arthritis, and for some scoliosis that maybe their spine isn’t going to go grow straight as they go through those growth spurts. So it’s a really great way to do an early check and ensure that your little one has their spine growing straight and everything’s moving and adjusting the way that it needs to be.

So number three is the immune system. If you’re a little is uh oh my gosh they catch every little thing that’s coming around. Or they’re in daycare for a day or two and then they catch the next bug or maybe it’s a we’ve had four or five ear infections and, you know, we’re gonna start needing to look at tubes because we just keep having infections, over and over and over again. So there was a study in 2009, that showed that regular chiropractic care for kids can result in immune system related improvements. So parents said things such as their children were sick less often, they had better sleep and better mood. So, how would chiropractic possibly affect the immune system? It all goes back to the brain. Our brain and our nervous system are what signals our immune system that hey, we have a virus here hey we have bacteria here. And when that brain to immune system connection isn’t strong. Then, we have a little bit of a sluggish immune system. So, chiropractic care can help to just support our immune system and get it functioning as optimally as it can.

Number four is behavioral issues. So here we’re looking at ADHD symptoms, hyperactivity, always on always on alert. And once again this is a sign that the nervous system might be out of balance. So, if your little is always go go go, not quite sitting still always fidgeting moving and doesn’t seem to have that off switch that can be a sign once again that their nervous system is more towards fight and flight. And just a little bit away from that rest and digest place. So chiropractic really what we’re going to look at is are there imbalances in the nervous system there and what can we do to get that brain to body connection turned on and supported.

Number five is allergies. So, allergies come from when the immune system is overreacting and not being regulated the way that is normal. So that’s one piece of allergies. And it’s the same story with the connecting the brain to the immune system. The other piece is all those nerves that come from our spinal cord, go to our muscles our organs and glands. So, if you know your little might not have a lot of movement in the middle of their back that you would notice with your posture that sometimes that nerve goes to the lungs. And so if there are some respiratory allergies if we can turn on that connection from the nervous system to the lungs, it can help to with the coughing and with the breathing, and it can help just boost your little’s system.

And last but not least, Number six is digestive issues. With my babies that come into the office my little newborns 1, 2, 3 month old. This one is the biggest sign that they show. Because if you can imagine those newborns. I mean their entire world is resting and digesting, and if they’re not having a bowel movement at least once a day. It’s a sign that you know their nervous system is a little more anxious. And that is my number one sign when I’m looking is how often are the bowel movement, and what is that looking like it might show up as colic, it might show up as spitting up lots of different ways it’s gonna show up. And then as we move, older. My older kids will actually have stomach aches and they go oh my belly really really hurts. And, you know, belly shouldn’t be hurting, unless you eat a ton of ice cream or a ton of chocolate, because you know, sometimes you just need to splurge, but for regular day in and day out meals that tummy ache can be a sign that the nervous system and the nerves at the bottom half of the spine might need a little bit of help and a little bit of support. So if you’re ever wondering why, you know, what are the pieces of kids in chiropractic. And also, I have no clue when to even bring my kid in I hope that this helped kind of clear up some of those questions.

So once again the top six things to check one sleep difficulty, two poor posture, three immune system illness, four behavioral problems, five respiratory or food allergies and number six digestion problems. You can always visit icpa for kids.com to look and find a chiropractor who specializes in pediatrics and has a really good understanding of the type of care that little ones mean. So I hope this helps kind of clear up some of the things with Chiropractic and why you might want to go check them out. I will put some links to the research articles in the show notes, and look forward to chatting with you guys again next week. Bye.


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