Chiropractors are often asked to give their professional opinions on matters related to professional athletic competition, and this extends to the emerging world of video game tournaments, more commonly known as eSports. Professional leagues in eSports are becoming quite lucrative; in mid-2019, a 16-year-old player of the “battle royale” game Fortnite won $3 million in terms of his cumulative victories, which means that earned more than legendary golfer Tiger Woods did as the sum of all the tournaments he played the same year. Some people may dismiss eSports as not really being a physical competition, but some professional video gaming teams receive chiropractic care and counseling.

In January 2020, the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) issued a statement about an emerging issue among American adolescents: To a certain extent, intense rounds of playing video games can result in many injuries, aches, and pains typically associated with physical play and sports. Not surprisingly, some of these musculoskeletal issues are essentially the same that adults get when they sit at their workstations several hours a day. The ACA Council on Occupational Health has stated that parents should be mindful of how much time their children are spending at their video game consoles and computers; the problem is that they often do so for several hours and without paying mind to the poor postures they keep during these long sessions.

It is not surprising to learn that the ACA is concerned with the musculoskeletal health of children who play video games; after all, chiropractors are in essence family practitioners. We tend to associate chiropractic treatment with adults, but the reality is that children and adolescents can benefit from certain chiropractic treatments and counsel because they can lay a strong foundation of health.

Why Would Children Visit Chiropractic Clinics?

Spinal alignment is one of the main aspects of chiropractic care, and it so happens subluxation, a process of spinal misalignment, is one of the first musculoskeletal issues that humans go through, and it occurs at birth. Babies are manipulated when they come out of their mothers’ wombs, and this is something that pediatricians keep in mind when they monitor the health of newborn patients right after delivery and up to two weeks later.

While a misalignment of the spine may not result in immediate health concerns, subluxation may eventually cause problems that could interfere with growth and development. Permanent damage of the tissues and nerve systems connected to the spine is a consequence that can exacerbate in terms of strength, balance, and even normal development of the immune system.

Myths Related to Chiropractic and Pediatric Care

Here are some misconceptions about chiropractic treatment as it relates to children:

  • Chiropractic care is not for children: As previously explained, musculoskeletal issues will not wait for patients to grow into adulthood.
  • This is a healthcare fad: When the first treatises of chiropractic care were published in 1910, spinal misalignment during childbirth was discussed at length. Moreover, the International Chiropractic Pediatrics Association (ICPA) was established in the 1980s to research and promote the benefits of chiropractic care for children.
  • Spinal manipulation should never be performed on children: The techniques and treatments that chiropractors practice on their youngest patients are not the same as the ones performed on adults.

It is not unusual for some pediatricians to partner with chiropractors; however, they will not do this with just any practitioner. In North America, there are established paths of certification that chiropractors must follow before they can treat children.

Research on Chiropractic Care and Children

In a 2014 study published by the Journal of Manipulative Physiology and Therapy, Australian researchers found little evidence of adverse effects on children who undergo chiropractic treatment; in fact, they concluded that no pediatric deaths associated with chiropractors have been reported in medical research studies. Of the 31 studies evaluated for this specific research effort, the incidence of adverse conditions was lower than the threshold for non-chiropractic care.

There is a clear need for more research on the benefits of chiropractic therapy for children; however, it should be noted that ICPA council members routinely collaborates with pediatricians to ensure that they continue to serve the interests of patients.

Signs of Probable Spinal Misalignment in Children

Whereas adults often go to the chiropractor when they suffer from chronic lower back pain, this is not the case with children. When subluxation goes undetected and untreated, the signs and symptoms are different in children; pain may not be a complaint, but there may be uncontrolled urination that appears and reappears without a clear underlying cause. There may be irritation that could be misconstrued as being part of behavioral problems, and the same goes for onset ear infections. Headaches and colic conditions can sometimes be related to a poorly aligned spine.

Many of us are not aware of the crucial role that our spinal system plays in terms of holistic health. As adults, when we go through spinal alignment sessions with chiropractors, we tend to feel immediate relief; moreover, if we follow chiropractic advice with regard to stretching, we will feel even better in the long run. We may even decide to take up yoga for the purpose of avoiding future visits to the chiropractor. These are all decisions we can make as adults, but this is not the case for children.

The Bottom Line of Chiropractic Care for Children

As we have already discussed, chiropractic treatment for children is not only safe but can also be very helpful as it relates to healthy development. What you can expect when taking your children or adolescents to the chiropractic clinic is pretty much the same as when they are seen by pediatricians: There will be subjective and objective observations prior to making an assessment and treatment plan. Depending on the condition of your child, the observations could merit a request for x-rays.

The size, weight, and height of young patients is taken into account before spinal manipulation is considered. As can be imagined, this is a very gentle process compared to what adults normally go through. It is important to remember that chiropractic care is very natural and holistic; if there is a possibility of treating your children without manipulation, the chiropractor will let you know. In some cases, the spinal alignment will take more guided stretching and less manipulation for children.