As more people are going to chiropractors studies in well-respected journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, as well as the popular press is beginning to pick up and report on this trend. Several NBC affiliate stations recently ran a segment on the importance of chiropractic adjustments for children in their show, “The Healthline Report”. In the first of the two segments, Heather King, the reporter noted, “More and more kids, some as young as a few days old, are going to the chiropractor.” She concluded that. “Going to a chiropractor isn’t just for grownups anymore.”
Along a similar line was an article in the November 11, 1998 issue of the daily paper Newsday. This article reported that four out of ten Americans are using what they called “alternative therapies.” Most of this care is paid for out of pocket by the public themselves. Newsday reported on a study by Dr. David Eisenberg of Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center in Boston. In this study of 2055 adults it was found that more visits were made to alternative care providers than to medical physicians. While all segments of the population used alternatives, it most prevalent in baby boomers ages 35 to 49 with college education and income over $50,000 per year.
This trend is expected to grow and is reflected in a study supported by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. They estimate that 75% of the 68.8 million Americans insured through work had chiropractic benefits in 1993. This trend may be only to give the public what they want, as much of chiropractic care is paid for by the patients themselves. In certain areas in the US, insurance companies have even started advertising that they include chiropractic in their plan.
From a chiropractic standpoint we can only ask one remaining question. With so many people using chiropractic and other “alternatives”, who is really the alternative?
The June 6, 2002 issue of the Boston Globe reports on a phenomenon becoming more common, children under chiropractic care. The story states: “Chiropractors’ offices, once filled with middle-aged construction workers, over-the-hill athletes, and migraine headache sufferers, are taking on a younger look these days as more and more parents are bringing their children in for exams. For many children, trips to the chiropractor have become a weekly event, squeezed between sports practices, orthodontist appointments, and piano lessons.”
Not surprisingly, the article also presents an opinion from a medical doctor, Dr. Robert Baratz, who said, “Show me a medical doctor who says, `You’re here for hypertension. Oh, why don’t you bring your kids in, too.'” In spite of these antiquated opinions, the Globe reported that in 1998, children made 420,000 visits to Boston-area chiropractors. This according to a study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Local chiropractors say that figure has steadily grown since that study..
The article justifies the increased usage of chiropractic care by suggesting there is an increased need. “To understand why, look no further than Little Leaguers’ mud-stained uniforms, laptops flipped open on the edge of beds, and excessively heavy backpacks. Add in high-heel and platform shoes worn by teenage girls, hours in front of Nintendo and, in some cases, too much studying and not enough exercise, and you’ve got a lot of young, aching backs.” The Boston Globe also suggests, “The bigger reason children are getting treatment, though, appears to be parental experience. Some 27 million adults frequented chiropractors’ offices in 2001, up from 22 million in 1996, according to the American Chiropractic Association. As more adults find relief from their back pains through chiropractic treatment, they’re taking their kids in for checkups, too”.
Probably the most telling part of the article were the patient comments. One explains ”I started coming to the chiropractor because I had a lot of tension in my back working in front of a computer all day,” said Audet, of Sharon. ”When I first saw kids here, I thought it was kind of weird. But after my husband and I had been coming for four or five years, I thought, `Why not have them try it?'”
The chiropractors interviewed in the article explained that most younger patients have no symptoms, but come in for wellness and preventative care. They further explain that the children come in for correction of subluxations to allow the body to function healthier.