What they are
Similar to MDs and DOs, Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) attend a four-year program after college where they receive training in anatomy and physiology and diagnostic procedures before completing an internship at an accredited chiropractic institution. They do more than treat backaches: DCs actually aim to provide natural, preventative care through spinal adjustment, treating or preventing ailments like pain, colds, ear infections, and even allergies and ADD.
What to expect
Many families see DCs for preventative check- ups, the same way they would regular doctors. At a monthly well visit, they will check your child’s spinal alignment (either manually or via X-ray), which could’ve slid out of whack unnoticed when she bumped into a friend on the playground, fell off her bike, or even went through a period of rapid growth. The same is true if your child comes in with a cold or ear infection that won’t go away. And if the chiropractor finds a spinal misalignment, he’ll use slight pressure and pushing to gently manipulate your child’s vertebrae back to normal. “When the nervous system isn’t functioning correctly, it affects the upper neck, ears, nose, and throat. Most of the time, ear infections are caused by nerve blockages in the neck, and an adjustment clears up the problem,” says Louis Peterson, D.C., a New York–based chiropractor. In addition to seeing kids, chiropractors treat babies, too. Often, an infant can experience spinal stress during birth or from being held the wrong way, which can lead to problems like earaches, colic, and trouble sleeping. But the adjustments are milder than what adults or older kids would receive. “They’re more moving and stretching soft tissue, or applying gentle pressure,” says Peterson, who has adjusted babies as young as a week old.
What to look for
Some families see chiropractors exclusively; others, in addition to their pediatrician. Doctors of Chiropractic are licensed in all 50 states to treat babies and kids. Many, like Peterson, do so in family practices; others opt for additional train- ing to specialize in children through the International Chiroprac- tors Association Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics, earning the credential DICCP.
Are they covered by insurance?
Most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover chiropractic treatment.