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Prevention Starts in Childhood

Most people don’t hold too much stock in prevention. With the exception of dentistry, which aims to prevent disease by cleaning erosive plaque before the bacteria eat holes in the teeth, there is not too much that happens in our modern health care system that is focused on prevention. Many conditions are avoidable and preventable depending on our lifestyle, food choices, etc. The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” rings true.

Many of us walk around with the idea that as long as we are not in crisis, we are fine? Even more disappointing, is how many of us actually think that reacting to a crisis is health care. Health care as we know it is actually disease care. However, it’s common knowledge that it is far wiser and easier to avoid serious illness and disease than it is to cure it.

In the chiropractic world we say feeling is not healing. For example, by the time most people feel cancer, it is usually very progressed. Yet people can feel fine for years – in some cases decades – while cancer is growing inside them. It is the same with heart disease and diabetes, as well as degenerative arthritis of the spine. By the time you can feel it, it’s been there for years, set up by decades of trauma big and small.

Many people have a false sense of security that if something really bad happens to them, that their care will be paid for. In fact, when we are in extreme crisis, our insurance system functions best in terms of covering our care. But what would happen if we had to pay for all this disease care out of pocket? Some in health care see this happening already with patients paying extremely high premiums only to then pay high deductibles and ridiculous co-pays. The fastest growing cause of bankruptcy in the US is the result of a health crisis.

For some of us, well along the path of self-neglect, the disease care system may be a necessary pathway to extend our life. But we have a choice to educate ourselves and teach our children about prevention. Eating well, sleeping and resting well, exercising, and stretching are all healthy ways to get our social and spiritual needs met and set a good example for our kids. It is my firm conviction that our kids need to not only take care of their teeth but take care of a much more important element in their body: their spines. Because we live in a gravity environment, we need regular chiropractic adjustments to keep our spines in alignment with gravity and prevent the dangerous and detrimental subluxated (malpositioned) areas of the spine.

While the rest of the body may regenerate every three to six months, degenerative damage done to our spines is not reversible. What we do to take care of a child’s spine can make or break their ability to truly be well as children, teenagers, young adults, middle-aged, and elder adults. Neglecting to maintain and correct the spines of our children sets them up for health problems, and as they age, we can anticipate that these problems will grow more prominent and varied. The evidence is very clear and I have sited the research numerous times in other articles – people with degenerative arthritis of the spine have more health problems across the board and less longevity than those without it. I have also sited the research that suggests that where there is spinal misalignment and global subluxation, degeneration follows (aka arthritis).

Sadly, even young children and teenagers can have serious spinal problems. I saw a young woman last month, barely 18, with a serious reverse cervical curve who thought daily headaches were normal because she had been living with them for as long as she could remember. Children with postural and spinal problems grow into adults with spinal problems. When the spine looses its naturally designed proper relationship with gravity, degeneration is progressive. Thankfully, spinal alignment is something that can be restored by chiropractors and postural distortion can be corrected by chiropractors who specialize in corrective care. The good news is that, unlike adults, kids heal quickly.

The injuries to the spine that can result from the simple slips and falls of childhood (not to mention the falls off of swing sets, jungle gyms, and trees) can cause them to grow up with spinal distortion that will eventually result in degeneration at the stress points in the spine and robs the child of the full force of their brain body communication. It’s amazing to watch a kid who is dragging, hop up off the table after an adjustment with a smile on their face and run off to play with vigor and energy. That is the brain body communication restored.

Dubuque area parents, Dan and Susie, sought corrective chiropractic care for one of their three children when they became concerned that she might have scoliosis. Susie says, “We were relieved when after three months of treatment, her degree of scoliosis was greatly reduced. The education we received along with chiropractic services helped us realize that chiropractic can improve all aspects of health, both immediate and long term. All of our kids currently receive regular chiropractic care. We feel good knowing that we are providing them with an opportunity to experience optimal health both now and as they age.” And Dan added, “We’ve also noticed a difference in their immunity since starting care. It used to be that they would get sick pretty regularly. Now they seem to be able to fight things off pretty well.”

Imagine if our parents had known to take us in for regular adjustments? Just because we can’t see spinal injuries or repetitive stress injuries doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Children are not fully aware of their bodies, so we cannot rely on them to report to us. Sadly, I have seen many parents ignore the spinal and musculoskeletal complaints of their children, maybe in fear of them becoming hypochondriacs, or becoming overly focused on their physicality. But this is all the more reason to have children’s spine’s checked regularly, whether they complain or not.

Though most of us would never think it’s okay to neglect bringing our children in for regular dental check ups, 90-95% of us think it’s fine to neglect maintenance and prevention of our spine and nervous system. Even more of us would baulk at the idea of bringing our kids in for regular spinal maintenance. Though this idea is well outside the mainstream, it shouldn’t be. My kids, when they heard I was writing about kids and chiropractic said, “Tell them that we love getting adjusted. When we feel sick, we get adjusted and we feel better. If I hurt myself at soccer, I get adjusted and I feel great. Everyone needs chiropractic and regular adjustments.” I asked them, “What about when you don’t feel sick or get hurt?” They said, “Even though I sometimes don’t want to get adjusted I always feel better after. I have more energy and I realize sometimes I didn’t even know how much I needed to be adjusted.”

Though most child chiropractic care is not covered by insurance, investing in care and maintenance of the spine and nervous system – the most important system in the human body – is an investment in real health care, and is an investment in our children’s future.

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