Skip links

Could your baby have back pain?

Dr Caroline Elphick (DC) Paediatric Chiropractor

Even babies can get back pain! Why does this happen and when could your baby benefit from seeing a chiropractor?

Many people associate chiropractors with spines, back pain and the ‘pop’ of some chiropractic adjustments. 

If this is your experience or expectation of chiropractic, you might wonder why a baby would need to see a chiropractor! However, babies can be affected by aches and pains too and chiropractors are highly trained in safe and effective techniques to help with these, without a ‘pop’ like an adult adjustment. 

If your baby is uncomfortable it can show up in lots of behaviours that can be upsetting for baby and you – like excessive crying, difficulty with feeding, or a baby that’s generally sensitive and difficult to soothe.

So, what can cause a baby to experience this kind of discomfort?

Pre-birth 

It’s not only expectant mums who can get back pain. Babies can suffer too.

Even in a very uncomplicated pregnancy and birth, babies’ bodies go through a lot! As baby gets bigger in the womb, almost all the available space gets taken up.

After 35-38 weeks, the foetus grows out of proportion to the womb as the womb is at its maximum size. It becomes more and more difficult for the baby to move, which can cause them to feel stiff and achy (imagine if you had to stay in the same position for days!) If there is any restriction in the mother’s womb or if baby gets stuck in an awkward position, this can make matters worse. Problems are more common when the baby is bigger, the womb is smaller or if there are multiple babies at once. 

Birth history

Thankfully, very traumatic (life-threatening) birth experiences and birth injuries are rare. However, mild or moderate birth injuries are far more common – especially if the birth has been difficult, or assisted with forceps or ventouse (suction) – and not always picked up. Even during an unassisted vaginal birth baby’s passage into the world is brought about by a lot of traction and involves rotation of the baby’s head with enough force to sometimes cause fractures. 

Post birth 

After birth your baby’s physical environment and space changes rapidly and radically! Having been nestled closely in the womb and then through the birth experience babies are then exposed to a whole range of new and unusual things – from being carried and held (upright again), to lying spread out and flat on their backs, to feeding and breathing and crying.

The new stimulation and sensations take a lot of adjustment, but especially so if your baby is coping with issues – like reduced range of movement, tension, or pain and discomfort – from pre birth or birth itself.

How can a chiropractor help you?

Chiropractors make sure your concerns are taken seriously by thoroughly assessing potential causes and symptoms of problems, including; a full history, birth details, feeding habits, sleeping habits, crying amount, daily habits, development, vital signs, neurological exam and spinal screen as well as questions regarding antenatal health; duration of pregnancy, intrauterine position, duration of labor, ease or birth, type of delivery and also maternal health.

These questions are important to be able to identify any problems which could be making things more difficult for both you and your baby.

Chiropractic treatment on babies is adapted to be safe, gentle and effective in helping your baby feel noticeably better.

Why did the hospital not pick up on this?

Different healthcare professionals have different areas of focus and expertise. In hospital your midwife/consultants main concern is a safe and healthy delivery for mum and baby. While your baby may have been checked for obvious issues before discharge, it is not likely that they will have been thoroughly checked by a specialist in musculoskeletal health.

After discharge, your health visitor (if you’ve been able to see them regularly) will probably have been more focused on baby’s feeding and weight, and unless you have had significant concerns, your baby is unlikely to have been assessed by another clinician. Some things aren’t obvious at birth and may develop or become more clear a few days to weeks after birth such as a ‘funny shaped’ head, feeding difficulties and positional preferences.

Getting more help and advice

If you have any concerns about your baby or toddler or any questions about this article, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our paediatric specialist, Dr Caroline Elphick via caroline@coreclinics.co.uk or by calling 01926 801111.

Dr Caroline Elphick (DC) Paediatric Chiropractor

References:

Jandial, S., Myers, A., Wise, E. and Foster, H., 2009. Doctors Likely to Encounter Children with Musculoskeletal Complaints Have Low Confidence in Their Clinical Skills. The Journal of Pediatrics, 154 (2), 267-271.

Kowalczyk, B. and Feluś, J., 2016. Arthrogryposis: an update on clinical aspects, etiology, and treatment strategies. Archives of Medical Science, 1, 10-24.

Mavrogenis, A., Mitsiokapa, E., Kanellopoulos, A., Ruggieri, P. and Papagelopoulos, P., 2011. Birth Fracture of the Clavicle. Advances in Neonatal Care, 11 (5), 328-331.

Miller, J., 2019. Evidence-Based Chiropractic Care for Infants: Rationale, Therapies, and Outcomes. Texas: Praeclarus Press.

Moh, W., Graham, J., Wadhawan, I. and Sanchez-Lara, P., 2012. Extrinsic Factors Influencing Fetal Deformations and Intrauterine Growth Restriction. Journal of Pregnancy, 2012, 1-11.

Rabelo, N., Matushita, H. and Cardeal, D., 2017. Traumatic brain lesions in newborns. Arquivos de Neuro-Psiquiatria, 75 (3), 180-188.

Ritzmann D (2004): Birthing Interventions and the Newborn Cervical Spine. In: Biedermann H (Ed): Manual Therapy in Children, Churchill Livingstone: p75-84.

Join the Discussion

Return to top of page