You, your kids, and chiropractors

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I almost hate to open this can of worms, but here we go...

Quick background: my wife and I have always been at opposite extremes when it comes to certain types of health care issues. She has always been inclined to run to the doctor/chiropractor/acupuncturist/massage therapist/allergist/specialist for every little thing (from my perspective). I, on the other hand, only seek medical help as a very last resort (I'm a man -- I don't stop to ask for directions, either :p). I'm sure the more intelligent approach is somewhere in between.

In our BC (before children) years, we just sort of went our separate ways, medically speaking, but now that we are parents, it's a whole new ball game. Now we are in the position of setting the example -- teaching our offspring how to handle their personal hygiene, how to deal with tummy aches, splinters, bruises, blisters, and so on. Since gymnastics has now entered the picture, we're both learning and teaching at the same time. Ice therapy is a regular thing in or house now. We're learning how to tape and bandage hands, feet and ankles. Parental accord has not been a problem up to this point.

But now...

I just found out that my wife (oh, boy -- I'm in for it now :rolleyes:) has been quietly taking our 11-year old gymnast son along with her for monthly chiropractic "adjustments". When I asked why, she said he had once mentioned a pain in his neck, and another time it was sore lower back muscles. My immediate thought was, "Duh! He has gymnastics practice 12-1/2 hours a week! Of course he's going to have aches, pains, and even owies on a pretty regular basis."

I'm totally and constantly concerned about the possibility of serious injury, but unless there is reason to believe he has sustained real damage, I've been going with the "let's see if it feels better tomorrow" philosophy. So far, it has always felt better the next day, and completely gone in just a few days at most. Kids have a remarkable capacity for healing. I'm actually jealous of that :eek:.

We have a terrific pediatrician. He has been an avid tennis play for many years and is well aware of what sports can do to a body. He has explained that boo-boos heal, applauded our use of ice therapy, and pointed out that our son may be experiencing growing pains about now on top of everything else. As a doctor, he sees no need for real concern unless any problems persist.

I guess my underlying concern is that I don't want to raise our children to think that going to doctors (or chiropractors or whatever) on a regular monthly basis is a normal and proper thing to do. Or am I somehow looking at this wrong?

What I'd like to know from y'all is what has your experience been with chiropractors and "monthly adjustments" in general. I'm a chiropractic agnostic, myself. Never felt the need to see one. I have friends who swear by them. I have friends who swear at them. I have friends who are chiropractors. I really don't want to offend anyone here. Just looking for opinions.

It's like George Burns said on his 100th birthday -- "If I'd known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself". :D

- Harv


Gold Membership
Feb 26, 2007
I too am a chiropractic agnostic, my hubby and I both agree on that one. My sister in law in a well respected rheumatologist in Canada and she says that adjustments of the neck/spine are a total no no for any age. Hubbies family are all docs or dentists and medical discussions are dinnertime chat.

I take my girls to the doc once a year for their check ups.

They see a sports therapy specialist, who is well trained and has worked for the cirque du soleil for years. She offers injury rehab, massage and excercises to get them back on their feet if they have an injury. There is also an orthopedic doctor at her clinic for real injury issues. They only have gone to rehab an injury and the sports therapist only sees them until they are ready to train without her support.

Chiropractors on the whole in the US are not MD's and they do not have the medical background that is essential to diagnose. Spinal adjustments can be very dangerous.

It is a tough issue if you and your spouse disagree, and if she has been seeking these treatments secretly for a while. More importantly I would check the credentials of the person she has chosen as not all chiros in the US are practicing legally, even those who are paid through insurance. The government has set out guidelines for practice and you can find them online.

I know there will be lots of discussion on this issue, we have had it before, so lets all play nice and agree to disagree, hopefully we can have an interesting discussion.

I'll try to find that old thread, it was interesting.
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gym law mom

Proud Parent
Dec 23, 2006
Lets be honest. Chiropractors are not MDs. They cannot prescribe medication, in many states can't order any diagnostic testing beyond an x-ray, are not trained to work with children and ALWAYS tell a patient some bone is out of alignment. They are rarely covered by any health plan, basically make their living treating people involved in car accidents, work comp etc. until the insurance company is able to bring it to an end(part of my job!).

A little soreness in a child's back can be dealt with at home---ice, ibuprofen, make sure he's stretching enough. If it continues, then a check by the pediatrician is in order. Monthly "adjustments" for a child can be downright dangerous and totally not needed.
Jul 29, 2007
I take my dd once a month to the chiropractor. I, also, see this chiropractor at least once a month......sometimes more depending on what all I've been doing to mess my back and neck up. She (my dd) really enjoys being adjusted.

On my first visit, I told the chiropractor that my dd was a gymnast and he advised that she come in about once a month to keep everything in line b/c of all the flipping, etc... I spoke to the head coach/owner at our gym about it before taking her in. She feels that if it is a chiropractor that I trust, then it is very helpful.

I know that it does help my neck and lower back greatly, so in my mind I feel it will be good for her. I don't want to overdo it for her, so I will only allow her to go about once a month (chiropractor recommeded) unless she gets injured.
Nov 29, 2008
Minn eee sooo ta! :)
I go to a chiropractor for everything, but let me explain. My actual doctor always has a really long waiting list thing to get in, and i have a podiatrist that i go to for feet stuff, but other than that i go to my chiropractor for everything. He is actually a medical doctor also. He is a good family friend, and i've been going to him for like, 10 years, and he knows what gymnastics does to me, and how my body works (believe me, its a little strange). I don't go for like every little thing, but i do go for anything majorish, like my achilles tendon has been bothering me since i got out of my cast, and he has been doing ultrasound therapy and adjusting it.
I've also heard plenty of stories about ignorant chiropractors who don't understand what we do to our bodies, and they can make stuff worse, but i'm pretty confident that for me going to the chiropractor is the right choice.

Also, i only go when something is bothering me. (or if its been like 6 months)

Deleted member D3987

simply put, chiro's are fine as long as NO torqueing [twisting] adjustments take place. there is already enough internal force and rotation that takes place at the spine.

my wife and i are both former gymnasts. years and years of micro and macro traumas to our anatomies. we have had our share of problems as we have become older. i kept telling her to not have her low back 'adjusted' as there was a risk of bulging/rupturing/herniation [whatever you know it as] because of age and ensuing degradation.

best best friend and former teamate from high school and college was her chiro for 30 years. i would not let him EVER torque/adjust my spine or neck.

what happens? 2 years ago my wife unknowingling bulged L6/S1. "kinda hurts" she said. i told her not to have her back 'torqued'. well, she didn't listen once again. and this time she suffered a herniated disc so complete that she lost her bowels and underwent emergency diskectomy.

there are other prevailing factors to long to go into. so, chiro's are good for physical therapy and other treatment modalities that they offer.

imo, gymnasts and former gymnasts should not be torqued/adjusted on the spine or neck.

In Canada a couple of years ago, some chiropractors and doctors got together and did some research regarding the benefits of chiropractic care versus the possible problems. In the end, they stated (chiropractors included) that chiropractic care should not be used with children.

Personally, I had a horrible experience with a chiropractor during my final year of competitive gymnastics. I had a spinal fracture (L5-S2) and was scheduled for surgery. One of the coaches begged me to just try chiropractic care before doing the surgery. I took the guy's name and went to see him. He did not do any X-rays, just started twisting and cracking. I couldn't walk the next day. I was in so much pain that just getting out of bed made me cry! After my surgery, my Dr. told me that I had the worst case he had ever seen. He said that my vertebrae was flopping around in my back and he didn't know how I could walk at all. He was amazed by my pain tolerance. I mention that so that you have an idea of how much pain I was in after a chiropractic visit.

My husband has had some back issues and tried a couple of different chiropractors. They both guaranteed that they could fix his problem. Of course, he had to go in twice weekly for about 6 months which was FAR more than we could afford! He tried it for a month each time and felt NO change. His back healed itself a couple of months later. He trimmed down his weight and increased his stomach tone. That helped far more than the twisting, cracking, pulling, table dropping, etc.

I know people who swear by chiropractic care -- friends, mother-in-law, coaches -- but you will never catch me in their offices! Nor will I ever take my children.
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I think Chiropractors can be used when needed. In Australia all are qualified and many physiotherapists also manipulate.

Recently my son tripped and fell at school and landed on his tailbone. After a week he was still in discomfort at training so I took him to the chiropractor.

His hips were out of alignment and his legs were actually different lengths as a result. After one treatment he was all back in alignment and no pain. His neck was also out of alignment (due to a bad stint with his tourettes and flicking his head). The amount of arm strength he had after he was manipulated compared to prior to manipulation was incredible.

I actually prefer physiotherapists as I see them as the gentler option, however I can see that there is also a place for a well qualified and trusted chiropractor.


Jan 31, 2008
Just some observations

Chiropractor's seem to keep patients on long term ($$$ perhaps). With all the cracking they do, shouldn't it take one sessions to get everything back in place :rolleyes:. I know one lady who was rather large (and aware of her health problem) who had back issues as a result. After a year of spending $100+ a week, she found the motivation to tackle the source of the problem, and consequently has no more pain through healthy eating and exercise.

Personally I'd recommend Physiotherapy as treatment for athletes. Physio's seem to have a defined rehab plan generally less than 8 weeks. I like that they are often from a sporting background. Although this turn around may be due to circumstance. Where I was living you could walk into the physio with an injury, pay a surcharge ($15+). Get treatment and often not pay another cent for any of your ongoing costs.

KAQuinlan that sounds horrible and negligent not to do X-rays especially if surgery was on the horizon. Do you suffer from any long term effects?

Harv, I think if your son really ‘needed' that amount of treatment, you should be looking for a new gym. Pay for injuries, pay for treatment, repeat ;). However, it sounds like the current gym plus ice is all that is really needed.
Hi Harv. It's a good concern to have.

I think you really need to have a talk with your wife -- in front of your pediatrician - about chiropractic care.

My DW took my son to a chiro for shoulder issues. Basicially his bone would become dislodged during HS wrestling. The chiro said it was fixable, of course requiring bi-weekly "adjustments", which they did for a few months. It helped for a day or so, then it went back to being painful again.

I finally got them to a REAL sports physician, who took one X-ray, and told my son that he's stopped growing, has a weak rotator cuff, and to take up another sport other then wrestling. Plain and simple. He also reminded the wife that Chiropractors are the ONLY "physicians" the recommend scheduled "adjustments" over solving the problem. They also are not permitted to "diagnose" from a medical stand point. They can only make a physicalogical "observation". Big difference.

My own short stint was to help relieve lower back pain. Same thing..massage and "adjustments" was the problem. Always the same...felt like I came out of a hot tub for a day... then pain again. After seeing a physical therapist ONCE, I learned that my "back" pain wasnt even my back, but tension in my legs. I was given a few stretches that i could do at my desk, and havent had back pain since! (yup...even without "adjustments!...shocking I know!) :)

For the record, I don't think they are dangerous... just fairly useless from "healthcare" perspective. Now, if you enjoy deep tissue massage - go for it. I love getting a massage every now and again. But I don't expect it to be some long-lasting elixer for my aches and pains.
Thankfully, no. Since my surgery I can do more gymnastics (even at 32 after having two kids!) and rarely have pain. When I do have pain, it is in my hip where they had to take out some bone in order to cause my vertebrae to heal over the rod and screws. :)


Hmm, I know a few chiros. I've had them work on me and their ability to connect pain in part of the body and sense things has really intrigued as other bodywork practitioners ( massage, Feldenkrais, etc ).

At my last gym, the HC found a chiro to start coming in and working the gymnasts every 2 weeks. He set up a table at the gym on Friday nights. I did my first session with him and it felt pretty good. I can easily how traumatic it can be because of the force required for some of the movements/subluxations. In fact, I watched and looked into some of the material on it and that was interesting.

From what I've looked into, chiros can really vary. I've heard if a chiro tells you 1x/week for 6months, you should go elsewhere. One chiro, the one at the gym told me he should be able to fix any of us in about 1 month after 4 sessions and showing us some stretches besides some deep tissue massage to tear up all the adhesions from scar tissue due to rotator cuff tears and ankle sprains, etc. After that, once every 2-3 months for any reallignment issues.

However, I have read that their is a lot of danger.

Honestly, simply when it gets down to it, there is an old tradition in judo and jujutsu that many schools would do their own massage because the body would get so messed up doing that stuff. It goes over how to pop the back and body so things work properly. I know sometimes when my joints need to pop, I can feel things don't work right until I do.

Doing stuff with the neck sounds crazy. At gym, we often pop the kids back and shoulders because they just are in discomfort otherwise. Loose up that tension and they can swing and move right.

A lot of good general exercise would right a lot of things in most people but some people would rather see a masseuse or chiro to have them do it rather than getting off their own butt.

Chiros have an interesting history. Many chiros no longer believe in that history and work a lot in other bodywork such as chinese medicine or accupressure, etc.

One of my friends is currently a chiro besides being a MD I think in neurology and runs his own clinic in Texas offering a lot of this and that.


My $2:

1. Children shouldn't be seeing chiropractors without a doctor's referral. Ever. Period.
2. If children ARE seeing a chiropractor, parents should be watching for every single quackery watchword there is (see Quackwatch and and be ready to snatch their kid and RUN.
3. Any chiro who tells you they can do ANYTHING but help with back pain or tries to sell you stuff (including preventative adjustments against dislocations, "subluxations", warts, whatever) not only should be run from but reported to any and all regulatory agencies.
4. This goes triple for those who try to insist that one needs to eschew real medicine.
5. Or do something that's not safe or comfortable after being told no (torquing, neck adjustments-which can cause strokes-those electrostim thingies which if they hit the wrong nerve have caused people all sorts of fuzzy headed grief)
6. Physical therapists and DOs can do the same stuff, only without the subluxation stuff or anti-medical sentiment that's...kind of not ok to institute IMHO(their subluxations aren't the kind of subluxation that's a partial dislocation, see quackwatch) and without charging an arm and a leg.
7. The whole "I just need to see my chiropractor and not hurt anymore!" is a dangerous idea to get into a young athlete's head. This is a high impact sport, and while running to the doc for everything isn't the way to go, when we get hurt we need to actually get looked at, not have our spines cracked.

Disclaimer: I'm a strongly proscience anti quackery pro MEDICAL progress pro vaccine pharmacology geek who's had a lot of injuries and both had a bad experience with a chiropractor (like, BAD), AND gotten whooping cough thanks to the antivaccine sentiment they help spread. Three times. So I'm more than a little anti.
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