You may be familiar with the work chiropractors do to adjust the spine. They usually do this to treat conditions like back pain, neck pain, and headaches.
Some chiropractors say they can also treat kids with learning and attention issues, especially attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Here’s a closer look at this alternative therapy.
What Chiropractic Therapy Is
Joints can become restricted after an injury or over time by repetitive stress or poor posture. These injuries can cause pain and inflammation. Chiropractic therapy uses manipulation, also called adjustments, to correct the alignment of the spine and other parts of the body. The idea is that repositioning joints and tissues allows them to work properly.
Many chiropractors also believe that trauma to the spine can begin at birth and continue throughout life. This causes a poor alignment of the spine, so the body doesn’t function as it should. Some chiropractors believe that if the skull isn’t aligned correctly, it can cause uneven pressure on the brain, leading to ADHD. They claim adjustments can correct this imbalance, reducing ADHD symptoms.
How Chiropractic Therapy Works
Chiropractic treatment often starts with an examination of a child’s vision, hearing and reflexes. This might involve flashing light in the child’s eye, or having him to listen to music in one ear. Based on this exam, the chiropractor will decide what issue to treat. He then creates an individualized treatment plan for the child.
A chiropractor may also give parents exercises to do with their child at home. The exercises are tailored to the child’s challenges. For kids with planning or organizational issues, parents may be asked to do “timing therapies” such as clapping or tapping along to a metronome. The idea is that these exercises, along with the spinal adjustments, will improve brain function in a child.
Who Provides Chiropractic Therapy
This type of therapy is provided by chiropractors. They receive special training but don’t attend traditional medical schools. Not all chiropractors treat kids with learning and attention issues.
You generally don’t need a referral from a primary care doctor to see a chiropractor. However, some health insurance plans may require a referral.
What to Watch Out For
So far, there have been no scientific studies that prove chiropractic therapy can help kids with ADHD or learning issues. Of the studies conducted on chiropractic therapy for kids with ADHD, the results have been inconclusive. Further research is needed.
What chiropractors believe about the cause of learning and attention issues is not consistent with what experts know. For example, experts and scientists know that the bones in the skull don’t move. This is contrary to what chiropractors say about chiropractic adjustment helping develop the brain.
The Bottom Line
Chiropractic therapy isn’t likely to harm your child. However, there is no clear evidence to show that it can help kids with learning and attention issues.