When was the last time you received a good hug? How about the last time you gave someone a good hug?
A hug only takes seconds, but most adults feel as though the act is too personal to share with others on a daily basis; however, this mindset needs to shift because science is showing us just how important a simple hug is. Research shows a proper deep hug, where the hearts are pressing together, can benefit you in many ways.
Under high psychological stress, we are more likely to get sick. Knowing that a heartfelt hug can decrease stress levels, do you believe that hugs can help keep you stay physically healthy? Science believes this may be true, at least when it comes to the link between stress and illness. Researchers investigated the relationship of hugging, social support, and the probability of getting sick in 404 volunteers. The participants were called every evening for 14 days and asked if they had been hugged that day. There was a clear relationship with individuals who had been hugged more also feeling like they received greater social support. After the two weeks, the participants were invited to an isolated floor of a local hotel and were quarantined in separate rooms. The researchers gave them nasal drops containing a virus that caused common-cold-like illnesses. The results were amazing. How often somebody had been hugged clearly influenced their infection risk. Participants who had been hugged more had a decreased risk of infection, and out of those who were infected, those who had been hugged more had less severe symptoms.
Including hugs in your day is also linked to a happy lifestyle. We release the hormone oxytocin when touched, which elevates feelings of attachment, connection, trust, and intimacy. A 2018 study showed how hugs impact negative situations. Several hundred adults were called every night for two weeks and asked about conflicts with other people in their lives, whether they felt in a good or bad mood, and whether they had received one or more hugs that day. If participants received a hug on a day in which they had gotten into an argument with someone, the conflict appeared to lead to a smaller increase in bad mood. The hugs also had a protective effect, meaning that the participants who received a hug on one day and got into a fight the next day had experienced a smaller increase in bad mood than when not having received a hug the day before. Again, hugging has a huge impact on the psychological effects that stress causes.
When you include hugging in your everyday life, you are benefitting in the following ways:
- Lowering blood pressure, protecting against heart disease.
- Balancing the nervous system.
- Strengthening your immune system.
- Encouraging honest, deeper connections.
- Keeping you young and maintaining muscle strength.
- Lowering stress levels.
- Reducing feelings of pain
- Boosting self-esteem.
- Reducing feelings of depression.
- Releasing tension and relaxing the muscles.
- Providing the skin contact that bodies need to remain healthy.
- Healing feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger.
- Increasing feelings of happiness.
Between the age of seven to ten months, most babies begin to crawl on their hands and knees. This milestone is highly anticipated by parents, but it is more than just something to note in the baby book.
I am constantly telling my patients about the importance of crawling. New research is being published regularly that links certain developmental stages to brain growth and future learning abilities. As children crawl their brain is making more and more connections. Each connection is a solution to a problem that they have solved by, and with crawling. The more a baby crawls the more efficiently these connections become and the more automatic the skill becomes. Crawling provides an opportunity to explore the surroundings, and as the skill becomes more intentional, a baby’s spatial skills also begin to develop and improve. (Spatial skills are the ability to locate objects in three dimensions using sight or touch.)
Research also shows that crawling facilitates the development of cognitive skills, including the skills that allow a child to locate an object by sight or touch. One study showed that children who were crawling on hands and knees were able to locate a hidden toy correctly more often than children who were not able to crawl in this typical fashion.
Crawling plays an important role in the development of spatial and cognitive skills. Some development experts call this stage the “psychological birth” of a baby because it spurs specific growth and refines many other skills. It increases hand-eye coordination, gross and fine motor skills, balance, and overall strength.
Unlike army-crawling (belly crawling), hands and knees crawling requires contra-lateral or cross-lateral movements. This simply means that opposite hand and leg move together – or “cross movements.” Doctor and author Carla Hannaford explains, “Cross lateral movements, like a baby’s crawling, activate both hemispheres (of the brain) in a balanced way. These activities work both sides of the body evenly and involve coordinated movements of both eyes, both ears, both hands and both feet as well as balanced core muscles. When both eyes, both ears, both hands and feet are being used equally, the corpus callosum orchestrating these processes between the two hemispheres becomes more fully developed. Because both hemispheres and all four lobes are activated, cognitive function is heightened and ease of learning increases. Additionally, with the spinal axis giving her an up and a down, she will now be able to move any way she wants – three dimensionally.”
The cross midline ability plays a role in:
- Spine rotation: a twisting coordination through the torso
- Strengthening the lower back in preparation for standing and walking well
- Preparing the ankles for the bending and straightening needed for walking
- Strengthening hand-eye coordination
Crawling also helps reshape the hip sockets to prepare for walking. But the research doesn’t stop there. The brain development that is taking place throughout this stage of infancy is linked to reading skills years down the road. When a baby crawls, her body acts against the weight of gravity, developing her vestibular and proprioceptive systems. When crawling, the baby touches different surfaces and textures and will develop the sensibility in her palms and fingers, allowing her to grasp and hold small objects (such as a pencil or crayon to draw, write, or play a musical instrument) in the future. This is extremely important for her neurological and cognitive development. All in all, crawling supports learning, creative problem solving, and overall brain function.
If you are a new parent and want to help encourage your baby to crawl, remember that daily ‘tummy time’ is key to setting your baby up for success.
Did you know that tummy time exercise is essential for future developmental milestones? Your newborn is learning and growing at a rapid rate, and she will experience new sensations as she matures. It is common for most infants to cry, fuss, and typically not enjoy being laid on their stomachs while awake. Actually, most babies tend to fall asleep instead of working on their neck and core strength. However, you are not failing if this is what happens in your house.
Over the years of adjusting families with young infants, I can tell in a single adjustment if a baby is completing tummy time at home. I tend to bring the subject up often in the families that I notice it may not be happening. There was false information spread a few years ago about this exercise being useless, and sadly, many moms bought into it. This, paired with the “Back to Sleep” (“Safe to Sleep”) campaign, has led to developmental delays and problems with many babies.
Laying a baby on her back does significantly lower SIDS risks; however, a baby who is always on her back is not going to develop on track. There are concerns about an infant’s head shape, especially if she is left on her back or supine position for most of the day. Babies who spend a majority of time lying on their backs in car seats, rockers or on play mats, can develop a misshapen or flattened head. You can read more about the increase in helmet wearing and Flat Head Syndrome here.
The problem is not just a flat spot on the head; your baby can develop problems with her neck and head muscles, and this misshapen head provides less room for the quickly expanding brain to grow. As a result, several children may be prone to developmental delays, sensory issues, speech and language trouble and attention and focus issues. Research has found that many students who struggle academically (and emotionally) lack the proper muscle tone in their neck, shoulders, and back to comfortably sit in a class, take notes, and look at the white board.
Crying when introduced to tummy time is common, as it is a hard workout for a baby. She is working on strengthening her arms, legs, core, and neck so she can crawl correctly and eventually walk, run, and continue to develop on track. Tummy time also promotes proper posture, mental and visual stimulation, and exploration and interaction with the world around. Research shows that babies who spend at least 80 minutes per day (in small increments) playing on their tummy while awake are more likely to reach their milestones faster than those who spend less time on their tummy.
A 2017 study found that parents who report even the slightest head asymmetry in their newborn’s first month of life were more likely to prevent further asymmetry from occurring, and they were able to reverse the problem while working with their pediatrician and following side-lying technics and tummy time exercises. This I valuable information, as many parents believe the only solution is a helmet.
Do you struggle with tummy time? Here are a few ideas to make it a more peaceful practice:
- Spread out a blanket in a clear area of the floor
- Try short sessions after a diaper change or after your baby wakes from a nap
- Put a toy or toys within your baby’s reach to help your baby learn to play and interact
- Sit with your baby while she is on the floor so that she doesn’t feel abandoned
- Increase the session duration as your baby gets older
Inflammation of the gut is linked to chronic problems throughout the entire body, including neurological and autoimmune disorders. While we continue to wait for the science to catch up to what so many of us have already concluded, we can begin to take charge of our lives, and almost more importantly, our children’s lives.
I’m creating a three-part series on the topic of elimination diets because there are generally three types of individuals who are looking to learn more about them. Adults who are tired of band-aid solutions that cover symptoms, mothers who are exhausted and frustrated with colicky, cranky, diaper-rash-butt babies, and parents who want to figure out what is happening with their children. All three of these people have walked through my office doors. Some find it amazing that something as simply difficult as an elimination diet can change all of their lives.
I’m starting the series with elimination diets for kids because this generation is struggling with gut-inflammation like no generation before them.
Look around and you can see the ever-growing number of children suffering from ADHD, ADD, Autism, Type 1 Diabetes, IBS, Obesity, Cancer, Depression, Anxiety, Sensory and Mood Disorders. While some of these disorders cannot be fully recovered from, they are all linked to a leaky or inflamed gut. As the gut is truly the ‘brain’ of the body, it feeds the real brain and cannot do as intended when it is inflamed and not functioning properly.
One (not so) small example: Researchers have found that putting ADDHD children on a restrictive diet to eliminate possible, previously unknown food sensitivities decreased hyperactivity for 64% of kids.
Children have age on their side, but their young guts may not even know how to be healthy or function correctly. If your child struggles with food allergies/sensitivities, rashes/skin issues, extreme emotions, tantrums, sleep troubles, lack of control, or any of the above mentioned issues, I highly recommend beginning an elimination diet to heal the gut and learn what specifically effects your child.
I am a huge proponent for daily probiotics and utilizing digestive enzymes, but you should get to the root of the issues. We cannot eliminate the environmental toxins from our children’s lives, but we can work to restore gut health and possibly ease their chronic ailments.
What is an Elimination Diet?
It is exactly as it sounds. A diet that takes out foods from the typical diet. Generally all chosen foods are eliminated together and left out until the person begins to feel/act/achieve a ‘normal’ state for a period of time. Once this occurs, foods are very slowly reintroduced, taking extreme note on behaviors, sleep, moods, skin appearance, and overall health. Through the reintroduction stage, you will discover what foods ‘trigger’ or intensify your child’s ailments, symptoms, and disorders.
What Elimination Diet is Right for My Child?
This is where things get hard. There are several diets you can choose from, but there is not a one-size-fits-all magic trick diet. Well, there might be, but many parents opt to go for an easier introduction to the food-eliminating world. The GAPS diet will bring you back to the very root of foods and keep you there until the gut is healed. It then slowly reintroduces foods as you record the body’s reactions. It is a wonderful option, especially if things do not change after eliminating the basic foods.
There are three basic types of elimination diets:
The strict, limited foods “oligoantigenic diet” which eliminates nearly all foods except a limited number that generally cause no problems.
The multiple-food elimination diet removes foods that most commonly cause food sensitivities. Dairy, gluten, wheat, corn, soy, eggs, nuts, citrus, processed foods and artificial colors and flavors top the list of what should be first eliminated.
The single-food elimination diet removes only one or two foods at a time. It is most helpful if you are highly suspicious of one or two items your child is eating. However, this diet typically leads parents into a multiple elimination diet, as it is not as accurate.
You can learn more about diets geared specifically toward ADHD, Autism, and other ailments like the Feingold Diet. You can try a month of Whole30 and see if it leads you to any easy solutions. You can create your own diet if you feel comfortable doing so. However, a diet is not an overnight miracle. It takes 2 weeks or so for the body to detox from the foods it is used to. This detox period can be emotional and extreme, especially when a child is use to consuming food dyes, sugars, and processed items on the regular. Stay strong and committed, keeping other foods out of reach and sight. Once your child reaches ‘baseline’ or what you would consider ‘typical’ for a 3-week timeframe, you can add back in one thing at a time. Reactions (emotional, mental, or physical) can occur up to two days after eating something.
Puberty is a time of life that we don’t often sit and reflect on; however, there will be a time in which parenthood presents the chance to relive all of the acne, cramping, back pain, emotional rollercoasters, and slamming doors through the lives of our children. I’m not exactly looking forward to this time when my own daughter will go through it, but I plan to help her as much as possible.
There are several things to note before I dive into why seeing a chiropractor throughout the onset of puberty (and continuation of menstruation) is beneficial. The first being the average age of puberty is growing lower each year. This is a scary realization, when you see 10-year-old girls needing to grow up before they are ready. But this is the reality we are currently living in. Our hormone-injected, processed and sprayed food, vaccines, water supply, and pesticide-filled environment may be to blame, and other than living in a bubble, it can be very hard to avoid all of these possible exposures.
As one enters puberty, the body is experiencing a multitude of things:
The body is growing at a more rapid pace than normal, causing the muscles and spine to misalign which can add to already mounting emotional and physical stress during this trying time. The pain may come across as increased emotional outbursts, growing pains, or back pain.
Cartilage is hardening. Puberty is a crucial time for bone development, as the flexible cartilage that had allowed for growth in childhood hardens into true bone.
Hormones raging. There is no better way to describe the hormone distribution that is occurring throughout puberty. Hormones serve as messengers traveling through the bloodstream. Hormones can be responsible for:
- Sleep Patterns
- Sexual Arousal
When the body is out of alignment, hormones cannot travel from point A to point B efficiently.
Sports and physical activities intensify around this stage of life. As the competition increases, the physical toll on the body does too. Many teenagers begin lifting weights, increasing work outs, hitting harder on the field, and taking harder hits themselves. Even when not competing, the feeling of invisibility seems to soar throughout puberty, inviting daring jumps, awkward landings, and crazy stunts. All of which can cause misalignments of the spine.
Books are heavier. Chiropractors everywhere have a bone to pick with our school system and the amount of weight our children are supposed to carry around each day. As the grade levels increase, the weight and number of books seem to increase as well. Carrying this amount of weight around is bound to leave a body needing adjustment. When you add in the overall changes occurring throughout puberty, it’s a recipe for extreme discomfort.
Gentle adjustments by a chiropractor can help a child throughout the transition of puberty. By keeping the body aligned, there is a higher probability that hormones can quickly rebalance, neurons can properly fire and be received, the body can handle greater impacts, and the symptoms of puberty remain calm and mild. For girls, what they think may just be back problems may actually be displaced pain from the reproductive organs. These organs depend upon a healthy nervous supply from the lower spinal column. If these nerves going between the reproductive organs and the spine are somehow blocked, it can lead to menstrual pain, cramping, and irregularities. Putting the lower spine back into proper alignment with chiropractic adjustments will relieve the pressure on these nerves going to the reproductive organs, relieving both menstrual and lower back pain.
Regular chiropractic care aids in all of the stages of life and should not be overlooked throughout puberty.
By Dr. Skylar Kulbacki
MiraLAX is a commonly prescribed over the counter (OTC) medication that is becoming more popular among pediatricians for the treatment of constipation in their young patients. A laxative intended for adults, MiraLAX is now being prescribed to children and infants as young as a few weeks old.
The effectiveness and safety of MiraLAX and its active ingredient polyethylene glycol 3350 (PEG) has not been tested in children.
“Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients has not been established.” 
Even though there have not been any studies to confirm the safety of the use of MiraLAX in the pediatric population, it does not stop many pediatricians from suggesting to parents to put their children on long term regimes using this potent drug. There have even been protocols created by The Seattle Children’s Hospital for long term use of MiraLAX, up to 12 months , even though it states directly on the label to not use the medication for longer than 7 days.
The cutout from the MraLAX product label .
What is this dosage doing to our children? Is it necessary?
How does MiraLAX work?
• PEG, the active ingredient in MiraLAX, is an osmotic laxative. This means that it acts by stimulating the intestines to pull in water from the body, softening the stool and allowing for an easier bowel movement. By pulling this water from the body and into the intestines, the risk for becoming severely dehydrated and experiencing electrolyte disturbances is greatly increased.
What does this mean for my child?
• By treating the symptom and not the source of constipation, a child may be at risk for developing long term complications due to chronic constipation and/or laxative use.
• The effects of prolonged and habitual use of MiraLAX is unknown, but due to its properties, this drug can at the very least cause dehydration, malnutrition, and Gastrointestinal dysfunction in a child.
• The body becomes accustomed to the stimulation provided by the medication, and constipation is likely to persist in the absence of laxative use. This creates a physical dependency upon laxatives to create a bowel movement at all.
How to help your child suffering with constipation:
• If your child is currently being treated for constipation using MiraLAX or another laxative, speak to your pediatrician about weaning your child off these medications safely.
• Try to figure out why your child may be suffering from constipation:
o Is your child drinking enough water throughout the day?
Kids Total Daily Beverage and Drinking Water Requirements:
4 to 8 year old Girls and Boys need 5 cups a day
9 to 13 year Girls need 7 cups a day
9 to 13 year old Boys need 8 cups a day
14 to 18 year old Girls need 8 cups a day
14 to 18 year old Boys need 11 cups a day
o Is your child eating a diet consisting of naturally binding foods?
o Does your child eat enough fiber each day?
o Does your child get enough physical activity throughout the day?
Daily physical activity and exercised helps to keep the bowels healthy and regular.
• If your child is still suffering from constipation after a change in diet, increased water consumption, and daily physical activity there are safe and effective options for promoting a healthy GI and regular bowel movements.
o A daily probiotic will help to feed the GI and creates an environment for regularity.
o Chiropractic care can remove any restrictions the body may have creating improper nervous system communication that directly regulate the bowel and GI tract.
o A gentle belly massage using lavender oil can help to stimulate a bowel movement. Working from the child’s right lower belly and massaging little circles with your hands in a clockwise motion in an upside-down U will help to ease discomfort and encourage a bowel movement.
Children should be having a bowel movement every day at the very least. For infants, it is more, at least 2-3 times each day. Feces are filled with toxins and it is vital to health that bowel movement are occurring daily.
1. Breckenridge Pharmaceutical Company. “Polyethylene Glycol,” Drugs.com, last revised Februaray 2016, [link].
2. Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Foundation. “Constipation Treatment Recommendations When Child is Over One Year of Age, for New Diagnosis or Recurrence of Symptoms. [link]
3. “Stop use and ask a doctor if you need to use a laxative for longer than 1 week,” MSD Consumer Care, Inc., “Directions,” “Warnings,” MiraLAX product label, [PDF file].
4. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Water: How Much Do Kids Need?”, eatright.org, last revised May 2015, [link].
Few people know if their child is right or left brain dominant. Few people understand why it is important to know such a thing. Not only does brain hemisphere domination relate to how a child learns and absorbs information, but their thought process, emotions, and conflict management are all tied to it as well. As a chiropractor, knowing this detail about a child, which brain hemisphere dominates, is a wonderful tool to aiding an adjustment.
The brain is made up of two halves – hemispheres – with each one controlling the opposite side of the body. This means that the right half processes what the left eye sees, and it controls the left side of the body. The opposite is true for the left hemisphere.
Children are born right side dominant. Until the age of three, blood flow is significantly greater to the right hemisphere of the brain. Between ages 4-7 there is a huge shift, as the left half of the brain typically takes over. This aligns with most countries of the world delaying formal education until 7 years of age. The left side of the brain is responsible for the reading, writing, calculation, logistical thinking, verbal processes, analytical thinking, and ability to focus for extended periods of time. It is known as the “Digital Brain.” But for some children, this shift is much more gradual – or does not fully happen. These “Right-Brained Children” are known as ‘butterfly-chasers.’ The right hemisphere is visual. It processes information as a whole with an emotional product. Creativity, artistic ability, emotions, and all of the senses are tied to the right side.
Researchers want us to believe that there is a true balance that occurs in adolescence, but I fail to agree. While a child may pull from both hemispheres, it is far from equal. I have yet to meet a parent who wouldn’t agree.
Research shows that the frontal lobes of the brain are extensively involved with logical reasoning. The left hemisphere’s frontal lobe being the ‘rational voice.’ Therefore, left-brain children can handle social situations with little emotion but practicality instead. http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/127/4/783.abstract
That being said, the right frontal lobe is tied to divergent thinking. This means that things are never black and white. While a right-brained child sees things as a whole, they also see it as ‘gray,’ with so many emotions and details involved that the answer may never be exact. controls sensory processing and expression. Children who are right brain dominant are often very visual, spontaneous, emotional and intuitive but may struggle academically with memorizing facts and paying attention to details. This hemisphere also controls sensory processing and expressions. These children may struggle academically, as our curriculums tend to be left-brain driven. http://repository.cmu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1003&context=shr and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4107958/
Children diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, SPD, social, behavioral, or academic challenges may have an extreme imbalance in hemispheric communication. Although, I do believe that the gut plays a major role in feeding these issues, the brain itself may be aiding in the problem(s).
What does this have to do with chiropractic care?
A right-brained child needs to be adjusted throughout the left side of the body. This allows optimal blood flow to reach both sides of the brain as needed.
While our society is molded for left-brained children (and adults), I urge you not to try to fit your right-brained child into that mold. We need more creative, musically inclined, artistic, peace-seeking, compassionate, empathetic children in the world.
Right-Brained Children: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4107958/
- Prefer group activities
- Organize things before they begin something (by color, size, product, etc)
- Are athletic
- Prefer to be shown rather than told
- Tend to lie down while reading or drawing
- Can find patterns and similarities while problem solving
- Read later and prefer drawing to writing
- Need to touch and physically handle objects
- Need to physically manipulate items to problem solve
- Want to discuss and air feelings
- See information as a whole
- Reach beyond the reflexive action of a situation and expand farther to include past experiences adaptive behaviors, and needs
If this is your child, chiropractic care may help her adapt to our society’s educational system by feeding the left hemisphere of the brain, along with:
- Using visual cues like picture stories to stimulate the brain to remember facts
- Using colors and images for mathematical reasoning
- Role playing lessons to increase memory
- Working in small groups instead of alone
While there are strengths and weaknesses to both hemisphere-dominant sides, right-brained children seem to struggle in our culture’s expectations. Instead of allowing this, support your child’s creativity and passions and aide them in conquering their goals. These are the children who will change the world.
As a chiropractor, I see many children who are experiencing growing pains. This is one of those diagnosis that seems to umbrella many unknown issues in the medical world. The biggest misconception is that everyone assumes the pains are caused from a sudden growth spurt. In all actuality, science cannot seem to find the cause of growing pains. That is, if there is one cause. It seems more probable that many causes may exist.
Chiropractic care is extremely beneficial for everyone, children experiencing growing pains are no exception.
Let’s break down everything known about growing pains.
The good news is that science does acknowledge that these pains exist.
A South Australian study published in the August 2004 issue of the Journal of Pediatrics found that approximately 36.9% of children 4–6 years of age experienced growing pains.
It has been found that up to 40% of children will experience these pains between ages 3 and 12.
A throbbing or sharp pain typically occurs in the legs (thighs, knees, calves, and feet) but may be felt in the arms as well. It begins in the evenings or wakes a child at night and may cause intense emotional reactions. It tends to be worse after an overactive day of sports or running.
How to Help
Parents are given few to no options for treatment. Typically, massaging the legs and the use of pain killers are the only suggestions. Parents are told this is normal during the growth process and it will pass. This is not the answer.
In the moment, massaging may be the only form of comfort, but (as I have previously discussed) pain killers such as Tylenol should be adamantly avoided.
Arnica gel and pellets: Arnica Montana, a plant native to mountainous areas of Europe and North America, has been used for centuries to treat a variety of pain. In 2007, research proved that arnica worked as well as ibuprofen.
Chiropractic Care: Improving the alignment and mobility of the joints of the pelvis and lower extremities can eliminate growing pains. Many times growing pains can be attributed to biomechanical issues early in development. Vertebral Subluxations may be behind the pain. Research shows that Spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) has been an effective way to eliminate growing pains!
Vitamin D: A recent study found that only 6% of children who suffered from growing pains had adequate levels of vitamin D. Another study examined the relationship of supplementing affected children with Vitamin D over a three month timeframe. Amazingly, the pain resolved completely in most of the children, while others experienced a significant reduction in symptoms.
Vitamin B6: According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, growing pains may eb a sign of Vitamin B deficiency.
Diet Changes: An anti-inflammatory diet, or more specifically, finding your child’s trigger foods, may end the pains. The gut is linked to the brain, the skin, the nervous system, etc. Inflammatory foods such as diary and gluten, as well as anything processed or containing chemicals should be avoided.
Regular Stretching: A small study found that regular stretching appeases growing pains. Stretching the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves every morning and evening for 10 minutes eliminated reoccurring pains.
Magnesium Lotion: The skin is the largest organ and will absorb anything placed on it. Magnesium has amazing powers and a soothing lotion version rubbed over the legs may prevent the pain.
Epsom Salt Bath: The magnesium found in Epsom salt mixed with warm water will soak into the skin and replenish a slight magnesium deficiency that could be linked to the night time pains.
Did You Know?
Growing pains are bilateral. That means that they will not exist on only one side of the body. If the right foot hurts, the left foot is sure to follow. It may not be at the same time, but it will be within a few days.
A Reassuring Note:
One believed cause of growing pains is a low threshold for pain. Since adults with fibromyalgia also have low pain thresholds, it was thought that children who suffer growing pains may be at an increased risk of suffering from chronic pain syndromes later in life. However, in 2010, a 5-year study followed 44 children suffering from growing pains and found that when children stop having growing pains, their pain thresholds tend to normalize. None of the kids in his follow-up study had developed fibromyalgia.
When Is It NOT Growing Pains?
It is important to note that ‘Growing Pains’ do not suddenly appear at age 8,9, or 10, but rather they exist from a younger age and may continue through age 12. If pains suddenly occur at these later ages, it is not caused by growing pains.
Some children diagnosed with growing pains meet diagnostic criteria for Restless Leg Syndrome, and a family history of RLS is common in these children. In some cases, symptoms are severe enough to warrant treatment.
Talk to your chiropractor or doctor about other issues if:
- Pain is occurring in the joints
- Pain worsens when touched
- Pain is worse in the morning
- Pain interferes with activities
- Pain is associated with an injury
- Pain is accompanied by fever, rash, weakness, redness, swelling, limping, loss of appetite, or fatigue.
It is almost impossible to avoid interaction with technology today. Our children are exposed to smart phones, tv’s, laptops, smart watches, iPads, LeapPads, other pads, and gaming systems just about every awake hour of every day of their lives, starting from infancy. As parents, we know it is wrong, but yet, the blue light draws us all in.
Children between the ages of two and 18 spend an average of five-and-a-half hours (or more) a day at home watching television, playing video games, surfing the Web or using some other form of media.
Brain growth occurs at a rapid rate. From birth, an infant already has all of the neurons he will ever have, but the synapses are forming based on nourishment and environment. Synapses are the relays over which neurons communicate with each other and are the basis of the working motherboard of the brain. Already more plentiful than an adult’s at birth, synapses multiply rapidly in the first months of life. A 2-year-old has about half as many synapses as a grown adult. They continue to form throughout childhood, into the teenage years, and complete development around age 25.
A few facts we know to be true about the development of the brain:
- Environmental exposures influence brain development.
- As the brain develops, the fibers connecting nerve cells are wrapped in a protein that greatly increases the speed with which they can transmit impulses from cell to cell. The increase in connectivity shapes how well different parts of the brain work at the same time. Research is finding that the extent of connectivity is related to growth in intellectual capacities such as memory and reading ability.
- Many hormonal changes take place during puberty. Reproductive hormones play a role in behavior and stress hormones have compound effects on the brain.
- The part of the brain involved in emotional responses changes during the teen years.
- An adolescent brain peaks in its ability to absorb and learn well before adulthood. The amount of information it can hold will never be larger than this stage.
- Sleep, or lack of it, plays a huge role in brain development. Sleep deprivation and fatigue attributes to difficulty maintaining attention, irritability and depression. Studies of children and adolescents have found that sleep deprivation can increase impulsive behavior. Sleep is imperative for proper physical and emotional health.
Did You Know?
21% of children under the age of 2 have a television in their bedroom, by the age of 8, over 50% of children have one. This does not include other media devices.
The amount of time spent in front of blue-light media devices at 2 years of age is linked with academic, social and health problems by age 10:
- Less engagement in classroom activities
- Less exercise
- Less sleep, poorer sleep quality
- Increased bullying statistics
- Poor food consumption
- Increased obesity
The average amount of reported time a 2-year-old spends exposed to blue-light media each day averages around 90 minutes. Again, that is the reported average, not the actual. I would assume the numbers are much higher. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children under 2 watch no TV, and children over age 2 watch no more than 2 hours per day. For every hour beyond this mark, the rate of the above mentioned problems increases.
As children enter school, those who utilize the internet during class cannot recall the information being taught nor do they perform as well on a test of the material as those who are not exposed to media. Research proves that reading books, not screens, develops reflection, critical thinking, problem solving, and vocabulary.
Not only is increased screen time effecting learning and brain development, potentially stunting both, but exposure may be causing permanent eye damage. Unlike digital eye strain, the effects of blue light media add up over time and can lead to eye diseases like macular degeneration. Children are at a higher risk than adults because their eyes are still developing, and they don’t yet have the protective pigments in their eyes to help filter out some of this harmful blue light.
I know that this is all scary, and yet common sense at the same time. We live in a time of technology, and our children should be included so they are not surpassed, but there is so much to be aware of before handing over a device and walking away. Notice body positioning as devices are used. Joints can be effected by prolonged media usage, effecting posture and causing many chronic problems. I see it all too often in my practice!
The bottom line, follow the guidelines of zero exposure before age 2 and limit to under 2 hours a day afterward. It may be an easy babysitter. It may even provide educational purposes, but there are consequences to the exposure.
Please take the time to watch this TedTalks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoT7qH_uVNo
October is Sensory Awareness Month. Sensory processing disorder is becoming a more well-known diagnosis among children, those on and off of the autism spectrum. The label is still not recognized by many medical professionals, but I can tell you that SPD exists. As a chiropractor, I work with many children (and adults) who struggle with processing their emotions. That is what SPD comes down to: sensory triggers that cause a spiral of emotions in which the individual cannot control.
Sensory Processing Disorder in simple terms is a misinterpretation of sensory information. We have 5 main senses: touch, taste, sound, smell, and sight. While any of these senses can become overwhelmed within the brain, an SPD child cannot figure out how to let go of the situation. The proprioceptive and vestibular systems play a huge role in regulating the incoming sensory information. The vestibular system is located from the base of the brain to the upper neck and inner ear. The proprioceptive system calls the entire spine and joints of the body home. This is why, when a sensory child is caught in an episode, he may seem to be in pain. His joints may hurt. His ears may ring. He may feel itchy like his skin is crawling. Even when not triggered, a child with SPD may feel constantly ‘off.’ They may not actually know ‘normal.’ This is why so many children may be misdiagnosed with ADD, ADHD, learning disabilities, etc.
A sensory child does not fit in a mold. A few common signs parents notice (this is not an exhaustive list by any means) include:
- Not handling things such as loud noises, being dirty, getting wet, wearing structured clothing, wearing loose clothing, wearing tight clothing, bright light, crowded spaces, having hair washed/brushed, getting fingernails or toenails cut, receiving an unexpected hug; walking barefoot, wearing shoes, getting buckled, or certain textures.
- Doesn’t notice when touched; almost always prefers sedentary activities to active ones; seems unaware of bodily sensations such as heat, cold, or hunger
- Needs to be touching someone, something, or everything he passes. Hugs too strongly and doesn’t know his own strength.
- Dislikes foods with certain textures.
- Cannot be anywhere without his primary caregiver.
- Often struggles with speech.
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
- Is passive, quiet, slow to respond to directions.
- Is excessively cautious and afraid to try new things.
- Is upset by transitions or unexpected changes.
- Avoids group activities.
- Wants to spin, slide or swing excessiely, and is constantly moving.
- Is accident-prone and has difficulty with physical skills such as catching a ball.
Children with SPD experience their meltdowns due to one of three reasons:
- The brain not receiving messages due to a disconnection in the nerve cells
- Sensory messages received inconsistently
- Sensory messages received consistently, but not connecting properly with other sensory messages.
Enabling a functioning vestibular and proprioceptive systems are key to aiding a healthy sensory connection. Vertebral subluxations (misalignments) of the spine may cause a disconnect between the brain and these sensory systems. An irritation can cause this misalignments – birth position, birth trauma, a fall, stress, etc. Chiropractic care removes neurological imbalances by realigning the spine. Within weeks of proper adjustments, a SPD child’s spine may begin to heal. Improvements with sensory triggers should occur, meaning the meltdowns should improve quite a bit. Motor skills, social skills, even speech may see vast improvements throughout chiropractic care.
Along with seeing a chiropractor, a diet free of processed foods, dyes, and gluten will greatly benefit a child suffering with sensory processing disorder. There may be more specific foods that a child reacts to, and an elimination diet (such as the Feingold diet) can help pinpoint the exact triggers.
It is not easy parenting a child with sensory processing disorder. Many pass judgement and try to blame the behavior on parenting styles of lifestyle choices, but the truth is that SPD is real. Occupational therapy, chiropractic care, dietary and lifestyle changes will all improve a family’s daily happiness.