Countless children in the United States are diagnosed with chronic constipation every year. Many pediatric GI specialists will tell you that it is the most common condition that they see, accounting for nearly 25% of all visits. There are many factors that can cause this, and most cases of constipation require a variety of treatments to resolve. Each family must take the time to discover both the physical and environmental factors that are contributing to their child’s problem, as constipation tends to have both a physical and emotional component.
Many of us have heard of the ‘gut brain’ but don’t really know what it refers to. This is the enteric nervous system, which can not only send and receive messages, but also respond to emotions. Your gut, or entire digestive system, contains over 100 million neurons – this is more than are found in the spinal cord! It is no wonder that gut health is so influenced by emotions. For this reason, almost all children and adults who are diagnosed with digestive diseases and disorders must address both physical and emotional symptoms.
For children who are diagnosed with chronic constipation, there is likely more than one factor involved. If a child has even one episode of constipation that results in hard and painful stool, they may internalize a feeling of fear or expectation of pain when the need to pass the next stool arises. Some children will instead hold the stool in, rather than face the pain of attempting to pass it. Like the colon, the rectum can also absorb water, so stool that remains unpassed in the rectum gets harder. This can make it even more difficult and scary for the child to pass. It becomes a vicious cycle of withholding and subsequent painful stool! This can cause both a rectal and bowel impaction if not addressed in a timely manner. Sometimes small pieces will break off, so called ‘rabbit pellet’ stool that some parents observe in their toddlers and young children. Parents might think this is just their kids ‘normal’ stool, and not know that it’s because there is a large mass stuck inside. Withholding for long enough can cause such a large blockage that only soft or liquid stool can fit around it. Children with this condition will pass frequent very small loose stools. In younger (and occasionally older) children this may present as encopresis, or soiling. This occurs when small amounts of soft or liquid stool leak from the rectum without the child’s knowledge, staining the underwear. Many parents won’t realize that the cause of this is either chronic constipation or a rectal or bowel impaction. Other signs of a rectal impaction include increased urination or wetting accidents. An overly full rectum can put a large amount of pressure on a small child’s bladder, causing accidents or bedwetting.
Diet of course plays a crucial role in helping your child get relief from constipation. Children should be drinking plenty of water every day. If constipation is severe, try organic no-sugar-added juices such as apple, peach, pear, plum, or prune. (Fun fact, many ‘p’ fruits are also high in fructose and promote bowel movements!) Adding 2-4 oz of aloe juice to other juices will soothe and lubricate the intestines. Many kids are resistant to high fiber foods, but encourage them to eat carrot sticks or celery sticks with almond butter and raisins – (bonus for more fiber!), or other crunchy raw veggies that they like. Many kids become constipated from an excess of pasteurized dairy products. Eliminating all dairy other than butter and yogurt might help your child. If your kids will eat broccoli with cheese try buying a raw milk cheese from your local health food store as raw milk tends not to have the same constipating effect. Adding organic raw coconut oil, organic ground flax seeds, or organic chia seeds can also encourage softer bowel movements. Many kids love the texture and taste of chia pudding which can easily be made or purchased already prepared at most health food stores.
Over the counter laxatives and enemas should be avoided until needed as an absolute last resort. Some GI specialists will recommend a ‘clean out’ for your child to relieve the impaction. They will likely recommend senna-based laxatives, Miralax, magnesium citrate, or a combination of all of the above. If your doctor recommends this, ask if it can be done with magnesium citrate only. Senna-based laxatives not only cause painful cramping, but can quickly becoming habit forming. Miralax is also habit forming, and while less so than senna laxatives, has never been approved for use in children, despite the fact that many doctors prescribe it regularly for long term use. There are many natural products that can be used to keep the stool soft and moving that are not habit forming. Organic oils are very lubricating to the intestines and can be given daily – raw organic coconut oil has a laxative effect for many people. Others to try are organic sesame oil or olive oil.
In addition, address any emotional issues that your child might be having. Is there a negative attitude in the home surrounding defecation? Does your child feel the need for a certain amount of control? Harsh punishment for encopresis or soiling will only make the problem worse. Many kids thrive on somewhat of a schedule during the day. No need to be militant, but kids like to know what’s coming up next. A particular effective strategy is that of ‘toilet sitting time.” Pick one or two times during the day when you know you will be home, and have your child sit on the toilet for 10 or 15 minutes. Give them a book to look at it if they’d like. Have a stool for their feet to encourage a more squat-like position, and give them some time to see if their body will relax enough to have a bowel movement. Having ‘sitting time’ at the same time every day will encourage your child’s body to move the bowels at that time. Many adults naturally have a bowel movement in the morning. If mornings are not rushed and there is time for your child to sit on the toilet for a while, try that. If evening is a more calm time in your house, try sitting time after dinner. Don’t expect immediate results. This is a complex problem that will involve a fair amount of work on both you and your child’s part. Seek help and support from other parents or a professional if you are getting frustrated or not seeing progress.
Regular chiropractic care can be a critical aspect of managing your child’s chronic constipation. The message that a child needs to defecate is sent from the intestines and rectum to the brain. If the spine is maladjusted in any way, a young child will not receive the message, so to speak. If your child is not consciously realizing that they need to defecate, stool will continue to harden in their rectum. In addition, many children will have been constipated or withholding stool for a long time before parents realize that something is actually amiss. By this time, the child’s rectum can be stretched out, and they won’t even receive the message that their rectum is full and needs to be emptied until the stool is too large to pass comfortably. One simple adjustment may be all your child needs to break the cycle! Other children require more frequent and regular care to maintain a healthy frequency of bowel movements. A case study presented here http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1479235408000588 demonstrated that chiropractic care not only increased the frequency of bowel movements in constipated children, but that the stools were “described as soft without the accompanying straining, pain and rectal bleeding.” A more in-depth study can be found here: http://drdianemeyer.com/Dr%20Meyer.pdf
Chiropractic America describes in easy-to-understand terms how chiropractic care helps relieve both the symptoms and some of the underlying causes of constipation: “Chiropractic adjustments (particularly in the lower spine) may help relieve constipation in certain individuals. Muscles in the intestine push stool to the anus, where stool leaves the body. Special nerve cells in the intestine, called ganglion cells, make the muscles push. These nerves connect directly to the celiac ganglion, which also innervates the stomach, liver, gallbladder, spleen, kidney, small intestine, and the ascending and transverse colon. The celiac ganglion, in turn connects to the spinal cord (and the brain) through nerve roots that exit the spine in the lower thoracic and upper lumbar region. Pressure on these nerve roots caused by misalignment of the vertebrae in this area may interfere with the normal function of the bowel as well as other organs of the digestive system.”
If your child is suffering at all from constipation, even just occasionally, come see us at Pea and the Pod. Like many health issues, constipation is easiest to relieve when addressed early.
There is hardly anything more frustrating for a new parent than when your previously sleepy newborn baby turns into a colicky mess. Before we were parents, most of us had heard the term ‘colic,’ may have thought it had something to do with gassy babies, and hoped it would never be something we would have to deal with. Colic typically begins at around 3 weeks of age, and consists of crying spells that last more than 3 hours, 3 or more days per week, and lasting 3 weeks or more. Colicky crying applies to babies who have been fed, changed, burped, are dry, warm, being held by a parent, and otherwise comforted but cannot seem to relax or sleep. They may arch their back like babies with reflux do (note: although reflux and colic often go hand in hand, this is not always the case. See our next post about reflux!), and twist up their face in grimaces of pain. Theories as to the causes of colic include intestinal gas, food intolerances to either mom’s milk or formula, baby adjusting to their new gut microbiome, and others. However, these are all just theories and unhelpful to mom and dad in the middle of a crying spell! Breastfeeding on demand can help soothe your baby. Many babies cluster feed in the evening, and if baby is happy as long as he is attached to the breast, then let him be there! However, if baby is full, does not want to comfort nurse, and is not comforted by swaddling, rocking, shushing, nursing, or any of the usual methods, you might be dealing with colic.
Babies have quite the time of it as they emerge from the womb. Although their skulls and spines are built to withstand (and even benefit from!) the uterine contractions and descent through the birth canal, fetal malposition during labor, instrumental delivery, a supine delivery position, or cesarean section, can all have a detrimental effect on how babies adjust to life outside the womb. A skilled chiropractor will check babies pallet, belly, neck, and spine, and do any necessary adjustments to help your baby feel more relaxed, and have less pain, resulting in less crying spells. Infant chiropractic care is very gentle, yet can make a world of difference in the comfort of you and your baby!
Recent studies have shown that chiropractic care can relieve some of the symptoms of colic and help your baby be more comfortable. Infant chiropractic adjustments by a qualified practitioner are both safe and efficacious! In a pragmatic single-blind, randomized controlled trial in the UK, they found that chiropractic manual adjustment reduced crying behaviors in the colicky infants. The findings showed that knowledge of treatment by the parent did not appear to contribute to the observed treatment effects in this study. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23158465)
A 2011 review of available literature resulted in the following findings: “Our systematic review of the literature revealed 26 articles meeting our inclusion criteria. These consisted of three clinical trials, two survey studies, six case reports, two case series, four cohort studies, five commentaries, and four reviews of the literature. Our findings reveal that chiropractic care is a viable alternative to the care of infantile colic and congruent with evidence-based practice, particularly when one considers that medical care options are no better than placebo or have associated adverse events.” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21571236)
A study at the Center for Biomechanics at Odense University in Denmark found that chiropractic manipulation reduced crying by up to 2.7 hours! (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10543581) Other studies have shown parent-reported improvement of symptoms of up to 94%.
If you think your baby is suffering from colic, don’t wait it out! Come see us at Pea and the Pod Chiropractic
How many of you soon to be moms are having a hard time with your pregnancy? Back pain? Sciatica? Swelling? Carpal tunnel? Headaches? Great News…Chiropractic care and other simple steps you can do will help with all of these symptoms and many more. Yoga, stretching, chiropractic care and massage are all non-invasive and drug free ways to help you get through pregnancy. After all, you are bringing in an amazing little one in to the new world and you should enjoy every step of the way and not have to suffer with pain or be uncomfortable. I’m sure when you talk to others about your back pain you hear, “that’s normal for pregnancy,” or “the headaches are hormonal. It will go away after you have the baby.” Well, it isn’t normal and it’s as simple and aligning your spine and pelvis as well as getting up and moving and staying hydrated.
Adjusting women in pregnancy is quite different than if they were not. During pregnancy, a lot of the focus of the adjustment is on the pelvis to restore the neuro-biomechanics. Women who are symptom free of pain seek out a prenatal chiropractor who is specialized to help balance the pelvis and allow them to have an easier and shorter labor. There is a specific technique for pregnant women called The Webster Technique. It was developed by Dr. Larry Webster, a chiropractor who is also the founder of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA); he discovered an adjustment of the pelvis and sacrum, the triangular bone between the hips at the base of the spine, helped reduce intrauterine constraint in the pelvis which can lead to dystocia (difficult childbirth) as well and low back pain, sciatica, or SI dysfunction. By aligning the pelvis, this will give the baby optimal fetal positioning to prepare for birth and allow them to develop their spine and nervous system. The baby should be moving often, and when they are stuck in the same position in a span of months, development of the fetus can be hindered, especially the brain and spine. The nervous system is the first to develop in an embryo, making the nervous system the most important system of the body. That is why regular adjustments to both mom and baby are important not only throughout pregnancy in utero, but throughout lifetime. Many chiropractors are now specialized in prenatal and pediatric care and are trained through the ICPA or the International Chiropractic Association (ICA). It is important for you to find a chiropractor who is trained or is comfortable with adjusting a mom to be.
Not only are regular spinal alignments imperative during pregnancy, get up and move. Walking is so important to pelvic health during pregnancy. Walking will help keep the muscles and ligaments loose and limber which will help you during labor. The pace should be at your comfort level. You should walk between 30 to 60 minutes a day if you can. During your lunch, take a stroll around the office or parking lot. Take the dogs or a walk. Go to the mall and window shop. Find some girlfriends that have already had babies and talk about their experiences and what they enjoyed about being pregnant. If you are experiencing a lot of back pain when walking, you can use and ice pack while you are moving. Tuck an ice pack in your pants and cover it up with your shirt. No one will notice. The ice will help to penetrate into the SI joints deeper when walking to help remove the inflammation. Your body will thank you. Make sure when you are finished that you stretch you hamstrings. The muscles are attached to you pelvis and need to be stretched on a regular basis. So, after walking and after sitting for a while. At the office, get up several times to stretch your legs, get the blood flow going. Stretching the hamstrings several times in the day will give the baby more room to move.
Don’t forget about prenatal massages. Prenatal massages are a wonderful compliment to chiropractic care. While the chiropractor will help to align your body, the masseuse will help to massage and loosen the muscles and put the muscles back in to place as well. Not only will you feel amazing from the muscles aches and soreness, it will help with circulation of the blood to the pelvis and baby. You will notice with getting regular chiropractic adjustments and massages how much better you will feel and keep the pain ay bay much longer. Full body massages are not usually recommended until week 20 in pregnancy for safety reasons.
Prenatal yoga is another way to help keep your body and pelvis aligned. By doing yoga, you will feel more centered and balanced. It helps to increase circulation as well to the body just like massage. You will learn to breathe on more of a regular pattern which will help you during your labor. It can help you reduce your stress levels, which is important during pregnancy. It is important as well to look for a prenatal yoga class verses a regular class because the instructors are more aware of the body in pregnancy. They can help you modify positions as you become farther along in your pregnancy. Also, it is nice to have other women around who are going through pregnancy as well. It is a great bond you all will share.
Ladies, you MUST drink water. Just water. Not tea, soda, or packets of things, or drops to make water taste good. Just water. You may add some lemon if you like, that will help to alkalize your body. Water is needed for the baby to grow. Our bodies are made of 50-75% water. Your muscles and organs need the water to keep you your body moving and growing. You will notice your headaches will start to disappear. Headaches are a sign of dehydration, not always “hormonal.” So, how much water do you need to drink? The rule of thumb is body weight divided by 2. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you need to drink a minimum of 75 ounces. Since you are pregnant, and drinking for two, drink extra. Yes, it is a lot of water, but it is what your body needs to deliver a healthy and happy baby and it will help with the aches and pains of pregnancy.
What you eat is important to keep your body healthy and strong. Pregnancy is a marathon. So take care of your body for the long term, not a sprint. Make sure you are eating your fruit and veggies. The best diet to be on is one that is high in protein. You should have over 100 grams of protein a day. Many utilize The Dr. Brewer’s Pregnancy Diet founded by Tom Brewer, MD. He recommends eating every meal and snack. Do not skip any. He recommends foods to eat every day such as eggs, milk, dark green vegetables, salt, vitamin rich foods of A and C and liver. A complete list can be found at www.drbrewerpregnancydiet.com.
Salt. Yes, salt. Why do we need salt during pregnancy? Salt for the body is good for many reasons. The swelling you have… can be caused from a low salt diet. Salt is used as a transport system to rid the body of excess water. So, it helps to reduce swelling of the hands and feet. Salt is also wonderful for your organs such as your kidneys, heart and of course your thyroid. Many women experience hypothyroid during pregnancy and low salt can be a contributing factor to poor thyroid health and can help reduce the need for medication. Now, there is such a thing as too much salt. According to the World Health Organization, that amount is five grams per day. So, just sprinkle some on each meal to help with balancing the water during pregnancy especially in the summer months when swelling is very common.
These are just a few ways to help you embrace your pregnancy pain and stress free. Pregnancy should be joy and moments and memories you should have last forever.
Dr. Brenda Fairchild, the owner of Pea and the Pod Chiropractic spa dedicated to women and children, has helped hundreds of women get through pregnancy who didn’t think they could because of the pain. She is Specialized in the Webster technique and has her post degree in pediatric chiropractic to help your children when they are born and throughout life. To schedule and appointment call 302.368.0800
Fibromyalgia is a real condition that leaves women feeling frustrated when they are trying to find out why they are not feeling well.
There are many tests performed to rule out other conditions. Often times it is misdiagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome or arthritis, delaying treatment. You should start with your primary care physician and from there you may be referred to a rheumatologist who is usually the one to diagnose fibromyalgia. Chiropractic care and massage are part of the treatment for fibromyalgia. These are just a few of the more common questions that have come up in my office.
Q: What exactly is Fibromyalgia?
A: Fibromyalgia is one of the hardest conditions to diagnose. It can take months or years for an actual diagnosis because it can mimic multiple sclerosis, some cancers, and autoimmune disorders. The American College of Rheumatology defines Fibromyalgia as “a disorder that causes widespread muscle pain and tenderness, which tends to come and go and move about the body…It typically is associated with fatigue and sleep disturbances.” * It is as if the volume has been turned up in the brain as to how pain is perceived.
Q: What can cause Fibromyalgia?
A: There are many different triggers that can cause fibromyalgia and each person is different. Some causes could come from emotional stressors, some from physical stressors, such as arthritis or spinal disorders. There is also a chance that genes may play a roll as well.
Q: What are the symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
A: There are a wide variety of symptoms associated with this condition. Some include migraine headaches, digestive/ irritable bowel syndrome, TMJ, and pelvic pain. Many say they feel “run down”, tired all the time and are not sleeping very well. Other symptoms may include feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed. Some complain of a “brain fog”; meaning they may not remember things, and may take longer to retrieve information or do tasks. Most women do complain of muscle soreness or trigger points. If you have any or all of these symptoms, and they have lasted for over three months, you should consult a physician.
Q: Can Chiropractic care help?
A: Absolutely! Whether you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia or you think you may have it, chiropractic care can help. While your medications can help calm your nervous system, chiropractic adjustments remove nerve interference. This allows the brain and spinal cord to communicate better to your muscles and organs of your body. This can help diminish the pain, allowing for better sleep, which in turn will rejuvenate your body! While under chiropractic care, diet and exercise will be introduced as well as some supplements such as magnesium and omegas. Massage is a wonderful compliment to chiropractic treatments.
If you have any questions, comments, or topics for future issues, feel free to contact us here.
Dr. Brenda Fairchild, RT(R)(M), B.A., B.S., D.C., Owner and Chiropractor of Pea and the Pod Chiropractic in Newark where her main focus of chiropractic is in the treatment of women (including pre-natal care) and children. Dr. Brenda is a graduate of Parker College of Chiropractic where she received her Doctorate of Chiropractic, along with Bachelor of Science degrees in Anatomy, and Health and Wellness. She also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from University Nevada Las Vegas and is currently working on her diplomate in children’s chiropractic care. Prior to becoming a chiropractor, Dr. Fairchild worked in the medical field as a radiological technologist in a Level 1 Trauma unit and in the cardiac cath labs for several years.
Dr. Brenda is one of the few chiropractors in Delaware that is Webster Certified to treat pregnant women and their babies. The technique is designed to allow the mother and the baby to have an easier childbirth by aligning the pelvis and its muscles and ligaments. This gives the infant maximum room in the womb, therefore decreasing trauma due to intervention. She is also a member of International Chiropractic Pediatric Association and the American Pregnancy Association.
Newark, DE. – Pea and the Pod Chiropractic is a chiropractic spa dedicated to women and children in all stages of life. More and more women are turning to chiropractic for natural option to help them during pregnancy. Some moms to be are seeking help with their back pain, some looking for help to get their baby in the best position for birth; others are looking for wellness or preventative care for them and their child. Chiropractic care during pregnancy is safe not only for mom, but the baby as well.
At Pea and the Pod Chiropractic, we are trained and specialized in pregnancy care through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association. Dr. Brenda Fairchild is one of the few chiropractors in Delaware who is Webster Technique Certified to help pregnant women and their babies. This technique balances the pelvis to allow the baby to have the maximum amount of room and moms notice easier and faster births and less back pain. Her own pregnancy with daughter Madelyn Jaymes allowed her to fully understand the unique needs and concerns of her patients. We also have a one of a kind custom pregnancy table designed by the owner, Dr. Brenda Fairchild which has a cutout for a growing belly to allow a mom-to-be to lay face down.
Benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy:
- Less back pain and neck pain
- Shorter labor times and more efficient contractions
- Baby in optimal position for birth
- Helps with getting labor started
- Decreases birth trauma
- Helps with reduction of C-Section
- Helps with heartburn and reflux