NEW YORK (CBS 2) — More and more children are receiving chiropractic treatments, Dr. Max Gomez reports.
When four-year-old Gavin Devine was born, his neck was slightly twisted to one side. So when he was barely two-months-old, his father, Kevin Devine, decided to take him to his chiropractor.
“My wife wasn’t able to breastfeed him because it was so painful for him to put his neck in one position,” said Devine. “You could see that the body was healing itself from within and we were very happy.”
The chiropractor did what’s called an adjustment, a spinal manipulation designed to adjust the position and movement of the verterbae, or as Gavin says, “He massages me.”
The treatment was so successful, when his brother Michael was born a year later, he also became a patient.
“There are problems that start at the birthing process that are going unnoticed and that’s why as chiropractors we believe that all children should be checked,” said Dr. David Graber.
Critics said adjustments for children aren’t necessary or even safe. Pediatric orthopedic surgeon Shevaun Doyle of the Hospital for Special Surgery showed Dr. Gomez how the vertabrae in an infant’s neck aren’t fully formed and there’s very little protective muscle around it, leaving the spinal cord vulnerable.
“You’re taking care of a patient that is unable to tell you whether or not the manipulation may be too strong. It could be as devestating as, there have been some cases of quadraplegic, paralysis,” said Dr. Doyle.
“A lot of the time we just use our finger tips to make the adjustments,” Dr. Graber said.
About two million children in the U.S. receive chiropractic treatment every year, making it second only to natural supplements as an alternative treatment.
While real harm appears to be rare, the potential for a devastating injury makes this a potentially risky approach to pediatric problems. Health experts warn that if you’re considering chiropractic manipulation for your child, make sure you go to a chiropractor who has a lot of experience in treating young children.