Chiropractic for Children & Youth

By Lana Surgenor, DC, © Copyright 2008.

Chiropractic Has Helped Kids With

  • Subluxation(s)*
  • Acute and chronic illness
  • ADD
  • ADHD
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Athletic performance
  • Autism
  • Bed-wetting
  • Birth trauma
  • Breastfeeding/latching issues
  • Chronic colds/flu
  • Colic
  • Constipation
  • Developmental challenges
  • Digestive issues
  • Ear infections
  • Epilepsy
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Injury recovery
  • Joint aches
  • Mid-back pain/low back pain
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea
  • Neck pain
  • Neurological disorders
  • Overall health and wellness optimization
  • Postural issues
  • Seizures
  • Sleep disorders
  • Vertigo
  • Vision trouble
* Misalignment of a spinal vertebra that puts pressure on the nerve system

Chiropractic Can Help In The Following Areas

Spirit: Chiropractic care empowers children and youth to reconnect and embrace the power that made their bodies, and deepens the inner connection to their own spirit.

Body: It promotes proactive wellness care and healthy lifestyle choices that translate into better health with greater ability to grow, develop, adapt and evolve as a human being throughout one’s lifespan.

Mind: The nerve system sends mental impulses from the brain cells to the tissue cells. Chiropractic promotes optimal transfer of life force information from the brain to the rest of the body, ensuring harmonious body function and balance.

Emotions: With greater ease in the nerve system, Chiropractic care is involved in supporting the resolution of many emotional/behavioral and mental challenges.

Social: Everyone in the family unit - and the greater community, benefits from proactive wellness care. Developing strong, balanced, healthy children and youth is critical for creating peaceful and harmonious communities.

Brief Description of Chiropractic

  • Chiropractic includes numerous techniques or sets of practices that use the spinal vertebrae as access points to reduce nerve system pressure or interference, to optimize health, healing and wellbeing throughout the body.
  • Techniques employed range from adjusting upper cervical-specific (upper neck only), to full spinal adjustments. Extremity adjustments and instrument use are also incorporated into some approaches. The Chiropractic spinal adjustment (chiro=”hand”, practic=”done by”) is a way to access the nerve system which is being protected by the spine. An adjustment releases life force, improves physiological function, frees stuck neural patterns, releases stress and returns our bodies to a state of dynamic healing.
  • Chiropractic is based upon the principles of life, health, healing, wellness and wellbeing. It embraces the inarguable truth that every living being is born with an innate intelligence that knows how to organize, adapt, heal and experience life fully.
  • A growing body of scientific research and careful observation is supporting Chiropractic care for all ages.
  • Although Chiropractors are trained in Chiropractic school to address all ages and aspects of health, some Chiropractors take further training in order to concentrate in different specialties which include but are not limited to; pediatrics, prenatal care, family wellness care, geriatric care, radiology, athletics, neurology, nutrition and physical therapy.
  • Chiropractic care is delivered in private offices, multi-disciplinary clinics and some hospitals.
  • Millions of people in all age groups - including babies & kids, have enjoyed positive symptomatic results through Chiropractic care.

Success With Chiropractic

  • Becky, age 3, had chronic ear infections with multiple antibiotic treatments and recommendation to surgically implant tubes into ears. After one month of care, Becky no longer had any fluid or infection in her ears and was not a candidate for the surgical procedure. Becky is now 5 years old and has had no further incidence of ear infections and consequent need for antibiotics. She continues to receive wellness adjustments to this day.
  • Noah, age 2 months, had colic symptoms with difficulty opening mouth to breastfeed. After one month of care, symptoms of colic significantly decreased with greater ability to open jaw and latch successfully. Both mother and son experienced greater ease, intimacy, bonding and health benefits following this improvement.
  • Justin, age 1, had constipation for 6 days with intestinal cramping and stomach upset. Immediately following the adjustment the child was able to have a successful bowel movement (in the Chiropractic office) and has had no further episodes of constipation to date. He is now 3 years old and gets checked by his Chiropractor regularly for wellness.

Chiropractic Is Appropriate For Ages

  • It is appropriate for all ages!

Children & Youth’s Reactions to Chiropractic

  • This depends on the nature of the Chiropractor, the environment the practice is in and the techniques used. Some techniques, instruments or machines used can be scary for kids and youths.
  • Gentle Chiropractic care delivered with masterful skills is an enjoyable experience for kids that they love to receive again and again!
  • Most children & youth appreciate the fact that Chiropractic is non-invasive and doesn’t involve any ‘yucky’ pills, medicines or scary shots.
  • Most children & youth understand and embrace the philosophy that their bodies contain inborn and infinite healing wisdom that needs to be expressed fully for their optimum health and wellbeing.

Extra Care is Needed

  • When children & youth have been frightened by past medical procedures or other Chiropractic experiences
  • When the child or youth and/or family are uncertain, inexperienced or frightened about Chiropractic care in general
  • When the child or youth has experienced extensive injury, poor habits or detrimental lifestyle choices, which complicate their Chiropractic care plan
  • Pregnancy, newborns and infants

Contraindications: When Chiropractic Should Be Avoided

  • Contraindications need to be addressed on an individual basis.
  • Generalized contraindications include fractures, spinal tumors, generalized osteoporosis, acute/severe injury and any life-threatening emergency.


  • The roots of Chiropractic were shown to go back as far as prehistoric times, when pictures depicting spinal manipulation were discovered in cave paintings in southwestern France. Ancient Chinese, Japanese, Egyptians, Hindus, Tibetans and Babylonians all practiced spinal manipulation dating back to 1500 B.C. Even ancient American Indian hieroglyphics illustrated walking on the back of a person as a method of curing ailments.
  • The famous Greek physician, Hippocrates wrote over seventy books on health and healing and he was an advocate of spinal manipulation. He believed we had a “vital spirit” and that only nature could heal the body, so it was the physician’s responsibility to remove any interference that would prevent the body from optimal healing. He is quoted as saying “Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases,” Hippocrates, 460-377 B.C.
  • Modern Chiropractic was born on September 18, 1895 when D.D. Palmer performed the first specific spinal adjustment to correct vertebral subluxation (nerve interference). The specific adjustment was performed on Harvey Lillard, a janitor who had been deaf for seventeen years. The man’s hearing returned following Palmer’s spinal adjustment and modern Chiropractic began.
  • In the late 1800’s, D.D. Palmer opened the Palmer School & Infirmary of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa to teach and develop the Chiropractic profession. His son, B.J. Palmer graduated from his school in 1902 and is credited as the developer of Chiropractic. His relentless work over his lifetime to develop, promote, expand and communicate Chiropractic was critical for the profession as we now flourish in the 21st century.
  • Chiropractors are now recognized as Primary Healthcare Providers. They have extensive education and training of the human body, life principles, scientific method and Chiropractic philosophy.
  • More and more evidence-based scientific research is being done to prove the efficacy, safety and benefits of Chiropractic care.

Basic Concepts And Components Of Chiropractic

  • True health, wellness and healing only come from the inside out, not from the outside in.
  • Every being is born with an innate intelligence and ability to develop, heal, organize and adapt to changes in its internal and external environments to maintain itself in a state of health. This innate intelligence is carried over the nerve system and any interference to this system results in a lack of function, communication and dis-ease in the body. Vertebral subluxation is the term used for interference or pressure on the nerve system.
  • Chiropractic does not treat any symptoms, illnesses or injuries specifically. Rather, it improves and increases the overall function of the nerve system which affects ALL areas of the body and allows the innate healing intelligence, with which we are all born, to work unimpeded. Although Chiropractors do not claim to treat any specific ailment or disease, Chiropractic has seen powerful results from the inside out with a vast number of symptoms and health concerns.
  • Conducting and paying attention to scientific research is important.
  • There is a responsibility to protect client confidentiality..
  • There is a responsibility to give clear information to our clients in regards to known risks, benefits, alternatives and proper referrals to other healthcare providers when necessary (specialists, allied healthcare professionals, medical Doctors).
  • There is a responsibility to get consent from clients and/or family before providing Chiropractic care.
  • Chiropractic unifies mind, body and spirit so that you and your children can live life to its fullest expression.
  • Up until recently, a child was said to be healthy if she or he had no symptoms. However, this has now been found to be misleading and inappropriate. Health is better defined as the ability of the child’s body and nerve system to interpret and then respond appropriately to lifestyle and environmental stresses, regardless of the presence or absence of symptoms.
  • Regular Chiropractic care will ensure that the child’s nerve system is better able to handle all that life has to offer.

Description Of A Typical Session

Initial Chiropractic Visit

  • Chiropractor will take special time and attention getting to know the child or youth and parent(s) by providing a warm, friendly environment.
  • The practitioner will take a full life and health history, including; current situation, past concerns, family history, lifestyle habits, stress level, spiritual growth and emotional/social circumstances.
  • A thorough and complete neuro-spinal assessment will be made by the Chiropractor on the child or youth’s initial visit.
  • Some Chiropractors take x-rays or order other tests/medical imaging of the body.
  • The necessity for such tests may be determined on an individual basis and can usually be avoided through a thorough neuro-spinal biodynamic assessment.
  • A Chiropractic wellness plan will be designed that is individualized, comprehensive and specific to each child or youth assessed.
  • In addition to adjustments, the Chiropractor will make healthy lifestyle recommendations that will educate the child or youth on wellness practices that promote greater physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing throughout their lives.

Regular Chiropractic Visit

  • Chiropractor will inquire with the child or youth and the parent(s) as to any physical, emotional, mental or spiritual changes noticed since the last Chiropractic visit. These can include questions about activities, bumps/tumbles/falls, emotional concerns, behavioral tendencies, symptoms, nutrition, chemical exposure, etc.
  • Chiropractor performs a hands-on neuro-spinal assessment to determine if there is any interference to the child’s nerve system (subluxations).
  • Chiropractor delivers a gentle spinal adjustment to alleviate any pressure on the nerve system, if necessary.
  • Recommendations or strategies to promote improved health and wellbeing in various areas may be made at the end of the visit by the Chiropractor. These include such things as; stretching/strengthening exercises, nutritional suggestions, emotional and chemical stress reduction ideas and other recommendations that promote healthy personal evolution.

Major Differences of Opinion Between Practitioners

  • There are various techniques or approaches used by Chiropractors.
  • Chiropractic is an Art; like all Arts there are various artistic expressions. Some of these include; upper cervical care (only the upper neck adjusted), full-spine techniques, instruments, traction devices, physical therapy, low-force energy work, high velocity specific adjustments or a combination of approaches.
  • Differences in approaches are helpful because there are so many different people with different needs.
  • The most important factor is that the child or youth feels very comfortable with the choice of Chiropractor the family made. Getting to know the Chiropractor, seeing the environment they practice in and getting a “feel” for the Chiropractor’s energy is critical for getting the most out of their care.
  • The other major difference between practitioners is the focus on symptom-based care versus wellness Chiropractic care.
  • Many chiropractors focus on pain, symptoms and injury recovery.
  • Other Chiropractors embrace a holistic wellness approach that looks deeper into health and healing, not merely the presence or absence of symptoms.

Fees/Costs In 2007

  • Cost of Chiropractic care varies from area to area, office to office and health plan to health plan, if insurance is utilized. A typical adjustment may range from $25-75 depending on the office. A typical initial assessment visit may range from $50-150.
  • Many insurance health plans cover Chiropractic care on a fee for service basis. Insurance plans vary considerably and can be assessed by the Chiropractic office staff, if insurance is accepted within the office. For more information on HMO and PPO insurance plans, please reference the Western Medicine chapter of this book.
  • Some counties and states have assistance programs set up for families who cannot afford Chiropractic care. Ask your Chiropractor or Primary Healthcare Provider to direct you to these programs to gain more information.

Average Time Per Session

  • Session time varies from office to office, Chiropractor to Chiropractor and technique to technique.
  • New visits are typically 30 to 60 minutes - longer under special circumstances.
  • Daily adjustment sessions typically average 5 to 20 minutes.
  • Wait times vary, depending on the Chiropractic office.

Recommend Length Of Time Between Sessions

  • This depends on the program of care that the Chiropractor recommends and is based on the child or youth’s individual and unique experience.

Estimated Length Of Time Before Improvements Can Be Expected

  • Results can be experienced almost instantaneously, or can take many months or even years, depending on the symptom/problem. Healing is a process and it takes time!
  • Reducing interference to the nerve system, unleashing the body’s healing potential and experiencing greater life/light expression occurs immediately upon receiving an adjustment, regardless if a change in the symptom/problem is noticed.
  • You do not need to be sick to get well! We don’t feel our hair and nails growing, but they are and we notice it in retrospect. Greater health and wellness is happening whether you see it or not.

Suggestions to Make Chiropractic More Effective

  • Choose a Chiropractor who will provide the exceptional Chiropractic experience: one full of love, service, masterful skills and grounded in the principles of life, health, healing, wellness and wellbeing. One who embraces Chiropractic as a vocation and their life’s true calling.
  • Choose a Chiropractor who you feel good about; who will take time to answer your questions; who cares for you/your child as a unique and special person; who truly listens to you & respects you; who can help you make decisions and employ strategies to experience a greater quality of life.
  • Parents/caretakers and Chiropractic staff remaining calm, relaxed and fun loving helps the child or youth to be at ease during their adjustments–especially on their very first experience.
  • Follow the care plan and recommendations as outlined by your Chiropractor to minimize nerve system interference. Do not confuse lack of symptoms with optimal wellness.
  • Eat a well-balanced, nutrient dense diet. Decrease intake of inflammatory foods such as dairy, refined sugar, red meat, soy products, gluten and especially processed foods.
  • Avoid unnecessary exposure to chemical toxins such as preservatives, sugar, caffeine, excessive prescription or over-the-counter drugs and vaccines.
  • Drink plenty of water every day to cleanse and detoxify the body.
  • Receive proper rest each night (7-8 hours).
  • Maintain a positive and flexible mental attitude.
  • Make regular exercise and play a consistent part of your life and your child’s life.
  • Stretching the body and/or practicing YOGA is a wonderful way to keep the body flexible, pliable and resilient.
  • Remember to truly BREATHE.
  • Reduce and eliminate unnecessary stress.
  • Take quality time with family and friends to laugh, play, support and enjoy one another.
  • Spend time in nature marveling at the beauty and intelligence all around. The same beauty and intelligence found in nature resides within our bodies.

Other Methods That Are Similar To Chiropractic

  • It is difficult to compare it to any other method because Chiropractic is the only method that adjusts the spinal vertebrae to reduce nerve system interference in order to experience better physical, mental, social and spiritual wellbeing.
  • Osteopaths and some Traditional Chinese Medicine body workers use spinal manipulations of spinal segments to improve the body’s overall form and function, similar to Chiropractors.
  • Other approaches that embrace the body’s ability to heal from the inside out include; Acupuncture, Reiki, Massage therapy, Yoga, Chinese Medicine, Craniosacral therapy, Feldenkrais, Homeopathic Medicine, Naturopathic Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine.

Other Methods That Complement Chiropractic

  • Most methods work well with Chiropractic and it is always great to have a team of healthcare professionals working with you and your family for greater health.
  • Allied medical fields: Western/allopathic medicine, Acupuncture, Massage Therapy, Midwifery, Lactation consulting, Physical Therapy, Osteopathy, Reiki, Chinese Medicine, Homeopathy, Naturopathic Medicine, Yoga, Nutrition, Fitness, Health Education, Personal/Professional Life Coaching.

Special Training Needed To Work With Children & Youth

  • All Chiropractors receive some generalized pediatric training while in Chiropractic school.
  • If a Chiropractor adjusts many babies, kids and pregnant women in their offices and focuses on family wellness care, they most likely have had specialized training and experience in pediatrics and prenatal Chiropractic care. Many Chiropractors take continuing education and training from such organizations as the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (www.icpa4kids.org) in order to have greater skills, knowledge and experience with these specialized populations.
  • Chiropractors can choose to take intensive training and education to become fully certified as a Chiropractic Pediatric Diplomate by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA). To have this status, a Chiropractor must successfully complete 180 hours of pediatric class work and 48 hours of Advanced Elective classes, participate in two Practice Based Research Network studies, author an article for the Chiropractic magazine for family wellness called “Pathways”, have proof of CPR certification and complete a written, oral and practical final exam administered by the ICPA. Other requirements by the ICPA may apply to be fully certified as a Pediatric Diplomate.

Certification/Licenses Held By Practitioners

  • Chiropractors have to be licensed by state and federal governments, as well as certified by professional associations.
  • Board certified Chiropractors have basic training of a minimum 3 years of undergraduate study, followed by 3-4 more years of Chiropractic graduate school study (3 years on the accelerated program, 4 years on regular program). Chiropractors must also successfully complete an internship with various requirements depending on the school, country and state/provincial obligations.
  • Continuing education is a requirement for licensing annually.
  • Specialists have much more training (Chiropractic Neurologists, Pediatric Chiropractors).

Professional Associations To Contact For Names of Local Practitioners

  • There are different Chiropractic associations for each state/province.

Number Of Certified Practitioners In U.S. And Canada

  • According to The National Directory of Chiropractic, there are currently over 65,000 licensed Chiropractors in the United States.
  • According to The Canadian Chiropractic Association, there are currently around 6,600 licensed Chiropractors in Canada.

What To Look For When Choosing The Best Practitioner

  • Recommendations from family members, friends and other people in your life are a great way to choose a Chiropractor.
  • Interview the Chiropractor to see if they are a good fit for you and your family.
  • For Chiropractors in your area that have taken specific pediatric and prenatal training, check out www.icpa4kids.org, or other pediatric Chiropractic specific organizations.
  • Check your state or province’s Chiropractic board Internet site to see if the practitioner is being investigated for negligence, unprofessional or unethical conduct or if they have any on-going liability law suits pending.
  • Check out your state or province’s board Internet sites to find out if the practitioner has passed all competency examinations and has completed all annual continuing education requirements.
  • Although often time consuming, you can access a list of providers in your area who accept your insurance plan in their office if you have Chiropractic insurance benefits.
  • Make sure the Chiropractor communicates clearly, listens intently and answers all your questions so everyone is on the same page. This is a team effort between you and your Chiropractor.
  • Find a Chiropractor who educates regularly on healthy lifestyle choices, life principles and the astonishing power of the body and its healing potential.
  • Ensure your Chiropractor provides gentle, honoring Chiropractic for the whole family with special interest toward pediatric and prenatal populations.

Leading Clinics, Centers, Practitioners

  • Dr. Jeanne Ohm, DC is the Executive Coordinator of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association and the editor of Pathways magazine: www.ohmchiropractic.com, or www.icpa4kids.org
  • Dr. Arno Burnier, DC is a renowned national and international speaker on life, health, healing, wellness and Chiropractic. Dr. Burnier has had a lifelong dedication to promoting Chiropractic wellness care for the WHOLE family including babies and kids: www.cafeoflife.com.
  • Dr. Sue Brown, DC is the Founder of Bio-Geometric Integration (BGI) and renowned international speaker on the principles of Chiropractic: www.bgiseminars.com.
  • Dr. Lou Corleto, DC is the President of AdJustWorld, Inc., a non-profit company which organizes worldwide humanitarian Chiropractic missions of light, providing Chiropractic care to people in countries such as Brasil, Panama, El Salvador and India: www.lifeexpressionschiropractic.com, or www.AdJustWorld.com.
  • Oklahaven Children’s Chiropractic Center is celebrating over 45 years of helping sick and disabled children back to health through Chiropractic care, specializing in treating children whom traditional medicine was unable to help: www.chiropractic4kids.com.

Resources, Research Papers, Books, DVD’s, Websites


  • Blanks RH, Schuster TL, Dobson M. “A retrospective assessment of network survey of self rated health wellness and quality of life.” Journal Vertebral Subluxation Research 1997; 1:4-9.
  • “Café of Life,” Café of Life International, Inc., 2008. Website: www.cafeoflife.com.
  • Langley C. “Epileptic Seizures, Nocturnal Enuresis, ADD.” Chiropractic Pediatrics 1(1): 22, April 1994.
  • Lipton, PhD, B. The Biology of Belief. California: Mountain of Love/Elite Books, 2005.
  • Mariano MJ, Langrell PM. “A longitudinal assessment of chiropractic care using a survey of self rated health, wellness and quality of life: A pilot study.” Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research 1999; 3:78-82.
  • Phillips N. “Vertebral Subluxation And Otitis Media: a case study.” Journal of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation 8(2): 38, July 1992.
  • Rubinstein H. “Case Study: Autism.” Chiropractic Pediatrics 1(1): 23, April 1994.

Helpful Tips For Parents

  • Proper nutrition is critical for healthy childhood development and growth.
  • Incorporate daily physical exercise for you and your child. Help your children develop healthy lifestyle habits at a very young age so that they will continue with these wellness choices throughout their lives.
  • It has been proven that our cells respond to patterns of thought, both negatively and positively. Teach your children the importance and power of happy, positive thoughts and loving affirmations.
  • Reduce the chemical stress your child’s nerve system is exposed to as much as possible. Eat organic, non-processed foods, use natural skin & body care products, reduce or eliminate when possible the use of prescription, over-the counter drugs and vaccinations, use natural or non-toxic cleaning products in your home and make your home as chemical-free as possible (furniture, toys, paint, gases, etc.).

Biography of Dr. Lana Surgenor, DC, Author

  • I did my undergraduate studies in Alberta, Canada and then graduated Summa Cum Laude from Life Chiropractic College West as an Honors Intern.
  • I have served on 6 Chiropractic humanitarian mission trips to Nicaragua, El Salvador and Brasil and have served as a staff member of Master Piece Training Camp numerous times.
  • I have been practicing Chiropractic for 4 years in my private practice, Soul Shine Family Chiropractic in downtown Santa Rosa, California.
  • I have special training in pediatric and prenatal care through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association and I currently see between 30-40 babies, children and youths per week.

Dr. Lana Surgenor’s Personal Statement

Why wait until your health is impaired to take good care of ourselves? Proactive wellness care is for the entire family.

To Contact Lana Surgenor, Who Contributed This Chapter

Lana Surgenor; Soul Shine Family Chiropractic; 858 Second Street; Santa Rosa, CA 95404; 707-525-9950; Website: www.soulshinechiro.com; E-mail: drlana@soulshinechiro.com

Marie Mulligan’s Comment About Chiropractic: Chiropractic is a readily available healing practice. I refer patients to Chiropractors, and my children and I have benefited from Chiropractic care. There are wide varieties of Chiropractic schools and skill levels. Take time and care in choosing the best Chiropractor for your child.

Rick Geggie’s Comment About Chiropractic: I know many children and adults who have been helped a great deal by Chiropractors. One Chiropractor helped her local high school football team become winners, against all odds.

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