Torticollis, or wry neck, is a condition where muscles on one side of the neck, especially the sternocleidomastoid or SCM, are constantly contracted or in spasm, causing the head to tilt, rotate to one side or extend backward. While the exact cause of torticollis is unknown, the condition has been shown to respond especially well to correction of misalignments of the atlas, the top bone in the cervic al spine. Torticollis can be congenital (present at birth, often associated with traumatic birth) or acquired later in life. If you notice that your child is experiencing symptoms of torticollis, be sure to bring them in to get checked!
When the atlas becomes misaligned, the surrounding structures can often be affected, including those of the inner ear, and can often create pressure on the left or right side of the tissue surrounding the Eustachian tube. This mechanical pressure can “kink” the tube similar to “kinking” a garden hose, preventing proper drainage of the inner ear. Non-invasive and conservative upper cervical treatment may be able to save you and your child the trouble of a costly and uncomfortable surgery.
Colic and Constipation
Colic, a catch-all term for extreme excess fussiness and crying not associated with hunger, is a digestive issue related to the function of the nervous system. Nerves from the spinal cord innervating the bowels can become irritated and lead to problems like constipation and gas. At Orlando Spine Center, we recommend dietary changes as well as being regularly checked for spinal subluxations.
Falls – Crawling to walking
A child’s transition from crawling to standing to walking is an exciting time for parents for reasons both good and bad. As we start to move upright, there is an increased risk of falls and tumbles. These are usually harmless, but a bump to the head or a hard fall on the tailbone can worry new parents. At the Orlando Spine Center we are trained to assess if a fall has affected your child’s spine and nervous system and to provide gentle correction.
Healthy Spinal Curves
Try this test at home with your child! Have your child stand sideways in front of you. Does his/her ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle line up vertically? If not, your child may be at risk of developing a postural abnormality (the same evaluation can be used for adults as well).
In the human body, there are four normal curves of the spine: lordosis (curving in) of the cervical spine in the neck, kyphosis (curving out) of the thoracic spine in the upper and middle back, another lordosis of the lumbar spine in the low back and another kyphosis of the sacrum in the pelvis. In the womb and as newborns we begin to develop and grow in a kyphotic posture.
Therefore, the thoracic and sacral curves are known as the primary curves of the spine. Only later when we gain control of our head movements and start to stand, crawl and eventually walk, do we develop the curves in the neck and low back, known as secondary curves/lordotic curves. It is critical to make sure that these curves develop normally while a child’s bones are still growing to prevent postural abnormalities later in life. Upper Cervical adjustments are a safe, gentle way to prevent these defects.
Bone Growth and Development
Many people think that bones are simply non-living minerals that are only in our bodies to hold us upright, but nothing could be further from the truth! Bones are composed of living cells that encase themselves in mineral layers and some bones contain a significant amount of bone marrow, the tissue responsible for creating new blood cells. Bones grow rapidly during childhood, so it is important to ensure that your children are getting the proper nutrition they need during this time all the way through their late teenage years. The minerals phosphorus and magnesium and vitamins A, D, C, and K all play important roles in the development of healthy bone tissue. Feeding your child fruits and green leafy vegetables like broccoli, kale and spinach is an excellent way to get them these vital nutrients while avoiding the downsides of dairy products.
CHILDREN AGES 3-9
The human body has an amazing capacity for self-healing, and this is never more evident than in our children. During this stage of your child’s development, Orlando Spine Center usually recommends maintaining a schedule of seasonal checkups (once every three months) to ensure that your son or daughter’s nervous system is healthy and balanced.
During this stage, children are frequently engaging in new athletic activities. Beyond seasonal checkups, be sure to have your child checked after any sports injury. While we do not directly treat fractures, bruises, concussions, and other similar sport related injuries, adjustments can complement and speed up the bodies’ self-healing process after any necessary medical treatment is rendered. Unfortunately, when children begin engaging in strenuous athletic activities too soon, Orlando Spine Center has witnessed an increase in spinal and extremity joint-related injuries. It is our recommendation at this age range to make it fun and not extremely competitive. If it is a sport that uses helmets, make sure your child wears one to reduce the risk of a head trauma.
Attention and Concentration
The pre-teen years can often be a time where difficulties with attention and concentration arise. While you should never stop a prescription for yourself or your child without consulting your medical doctor, there are alternatives to relying on medication for children with trouble focusing. A common problem is poor concentration due to aches and pains from a spinal misalignment. When the alignment is restored and pain is eliminated, a child can often focus better. Sometimes children who are simply over stimulated by outside toxins are unnecessarily labeled with psychological disorders. Eliminating these sources like refined sugar and caffeine along with regular NUCCA care can provide the significant improvement in your child’s performance in the classroom.
CHILDREN AGES 10-12
During this stage of development, it is important to make sure that your child’s musculature can adapt to their rapidly growing frame. One consequence of inadequate musculature adaptation is adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. While schools provide basic scoliosis screenings, it is imperative to have your child’s spine assessed by a licensed professional to determine if they are at risk of developing abnormal spinal curves. If your child is already experiencing patterns of scoliosis, NUCCA care can be an effective means of slowing its progression. At the Orlando Spine Center we provide free scoliosis screenings for your child.
The physical awkwardness we sometimes associate with the preteen and early teenage years is actually due to the body’s inability to adapt to the rapid growth of the skeletal system. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments that help us move and maintain our upright posture contain tiny sensors called proprioceptors that help tell our brains where we are in space. With the growth spurts that accompany puberty, these sensors are quickly stretched to new locations. At the Orlando Spine Center, we assist the nervous system by removing as much interference with the natural communication of the nerves as possible.
Although the days of carrying around backpacks filled with heavy textbooks are beginning to wane, the use of their replacements (computers, iPads, smartphones) brings with them a new problem entirely. Although it can take on many names like i-posture. text-neck, etc., the posture of today’s youth is being affected by technology more than any generation before. At the Orlando Spine Center we provide gentle alignments to help the body maintain good posture, as well as prescribing specific exercises designed to stretch and strengthen the muscles that help our patients stand tall.
You often hear, “you are what you eat!” and never is this truer than with children. At the Orlando Spine Center we offer advice on how to provide the optimal diet for your son or daughter. This can include what foods to make sure they are eating and which ones they should avoid, how much water they should be drinking, and which vitamins and minerals they may need to complement their diet.
CHILDREN AGES 13-18
Sports – Overuse Syndrome
At this stage, teenagers can regularly be found honing in on one or two sports in which they thrive and seem to enjoy the most. While this is great for building physical strength and endurance as well as developing relationships with their peers, it can begin to take a toll on their still-growing bodies. This is particularly the case in sports with repetitive unilateral motions including, among others, baseball, golf, and tennis. Rather than the big injuries seen in high impact sports like football, wrestling, and lacrosse, these sports can sometimes do more damage to the body through what is called micro-trauma. These small repetitive insults to developing tissues like tendons and ligaments can progressively build up over time. Eventually, the tissue will no longer be able to withstand the stress and give way to overuse injury and disability. Make sure that your son or daughter’s joints receive adequate rest and rehabilitation between games/matches/tournaments and that they are regularly checked for misalignments that could worsen these conditions.
Hormonal changes during puberty combined with the stress of high school life can lead some teenagers to experience painful headaches, even migraines. Although migraines have long been thought to be vascular (related to blood vessels) in nature, research is showing that the underlying cause is more likely dysfunction in the nervous system, especially within the brainstem and spinal cord. If your child is experiencing symptoms like throbbing headaches, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, or other signs of headaches, be sure to bring them to Orlando Spine Center for evaluation.
With the teen years comes the great responsibility of driving. While we try to prevent any harm, no matter how small, from coming to our children, we must also recognize that accidents do happen. Be sure to have your teen drivers and any loved ones in the car checked after an automobile accident over ten miles-per-hour. Always remember, if there was damage to the car, there was more than likely damage to the spine.
Peak Athletic Performance
College athletes take their physical performance very seriously, but many are unaware of what their body needs to reach their goals. All too often athletes push themselves too hard on the field or in the gym to try to stay in peak condition. Along with proper rest, nutrition and mobility, NUCCA care and extremity work can help student athletes remain at the top of their game. Being checked regularly for misalignments of their spine and being adjusted when necessary can help heighten focus, shorten reaction time, increase coordination and reduce the risk of season-ending injuries.
Thoughtless Injuries and Falls
College can be so much fun for young adults, but sometimes this can result in careless falls and injuries. If your son or daughter has recently experienced an accidental mishap like this, be sure they receive the proper care they need by having them schedule an appointment to be checked by the professionals at the Orlando Spine Center.
Nutrition Away From Home
Going away to college brings a whole new world of freedom to explore. One realm where this is most noticeable is in our children’s nutritional habits. At the Orlando Spine Center, we can help your son or daughter understand what proper nutrition is and why a healthy diet now is so important to the rest of their lives. We offer advice on diet, hydration, and supplementation with essential vitamins and minerals that are important for young adults who are still growing!