Pain and discomfort are sometimes difficult to recognize and therefore manage in infants, toddlers and children. You know its time to go to the chiropractor when your own aches and pains make their appearance, but how do you know when your baby or toddler may need a visit? How does your chiropractor recognize pain and discomfort in little ones?
In babies crying is used to communicate everything from pain to hunger to discontentment and a whole lot of other things! Therefore crying is not always a reliable signal on it’s own that your baby is in pain. However, if the sound of the cry seems different than usual, prolonged or cannot be consoled with a bottle, diaper change or physical comfort, it may be a sign that something is wrong. Excessive, intense crying- usually beginning around 2 weeks of age, may also be a sign of colic.
Other behaviours your chiropractor may observe or ask you about for infants 0-12 months:
- Disruption of sleeping patterns
- Withdrawing from touch or drawing knees into the chest
- Rigid or tense body positioning
- Avoidance of tummy time or certain positions
- Changes in appetite or feeding patterns
- Arching their body
- Different or unusual facial expressions
- Chronic pain can also drain a baby’s energy causing them to become lethargic and unusually
Fortunately, when it comes to toddlers and children they can often tell us or point to the area that hurts to demonstrate their discomfort. Another way to encourage children to express their pain is to supply a list of words, asking them to use the word that best describes what they feel, such as: “sharp,” “burning,” “aching” . Your chiropractor may use a pain scale with faces to have your child rate their pain, use a doll to point to areas that hurt, and observe their behaviour.
Behaviours your chiropractor will observe or ask about for toddlers & children 1-12 years
- Behaving younger than their age
- Intense crying or yelling
- Favouring a leg or arm, or guarding
- Decrease in activity levels
- Changes in sleep patterns & appetite
- Refusing favourite activities, foods or toy
- Being uncooperative
- Being physically resistive to touch or exam
- Body tension: clenching fists or jaw, stiffness, eye closing, brow wrinkling, frowning - Physical signs such as: dull eyes, flushed skin, fast/shallow breathing, or sweating - Being excessively clingy, asking for hugs and kisses
Untreated or unrelieved pain can take a toll on a baby or child causing issues with sleep, play, social bonding, appetite, sports, academic performance and can make them more vulnerable to pain later in life. Using the signs above as a starting point, your chiropractor can delve further into the cause of these symptoms to help get your little one out of pain. Chiropractic care for babies & children is gentle and effective. Children are also especially responsive to pain reducing techniques which capitalize on their sense of play and imagination- which means we try to keep treatment as fun as possible