38. Not Your Mama’s Chiropractor – Dr. Brandie Keates, DC
"The chiropractor looked like a combo of Buddha and Santa Claus. He had the biggest smile and a calm demeanor. He asked if he could examine my daughter, and she teetered up to him like an old friend. The doctor explained something I hadn’t considered: the weight of the cast and unevenness of having a cast on her tiny leg created an issue in her lower back which was throwing off her gait."
When you found out you were pregnant, one of the joys was joining other expectant parents in groups to commiserate and give each other support. After some time, you start seeing posts about someone taking their little one to the chiropractor. Wha?
Your mind goes back to your college sports career where you had a chiropractor to keep you at your best for playing, but a baby?
I know I thought the same. After my one-year-old child broke her leg and wore a cast up to her hip, she had a significant, adorable waddle that caused people to stop me in the store and ask what was wrong with my child.
After orthopedics suggested rebreaking her leg, putting it in a brace, or injecting it with Botox, someone asked if I had ever considered taking her to a chiropractor. I looked at them like they had two heads; I pictured them cracking my child like they would for an adult and thought it wouldn’t be safe for my child’s tiny spine.
But after seeing four orthopedic doctors, I had no other options so I conceded and made the appointment. I viscerally remember sitting in the parking lot of the clinic with hot tears going down my face. I held my baby’s chubby hand and cried to her father that we were “just gonna go listen. He’s not gonna touch her.”
The chiropractor looked like a combo of Buddha and Santa Claus. He had the biggest smile and a calm demeanor. He asked if he could examine my daughter, and she teetered up to him like an old friend. The doctor explained something I hadn’t considered: the weight of the cast and unevenness of having a cast on her tiny leg created an issue in her lower back which was throwing off her gait. He explained how he would apply a gentle force and asked for our permission. We consented so long as it wouldn’t hurt her and he assured us it wouldn’t. When he had finished the adjustment he set her back on the floor. Just like a fawn, she wobbled a bit and the took a normal step without a limp. I was speechless. This moment set my life on a completely different trajectory. I became a chiropractor myself because it was truly amazing.
Chiropractic care is amazing for a myriad of conditions and many parents see it as a way to improve their child’s wellness. Chiropractors have had great success treating infants’ musculoskeletal conditions like torticollis, latching issues (jaw tightness), sports injuries, and overloading injuries (such as backpacks). There is also anecdotal evidence for successful chiropractic treatments of colic, reflux, ear infections and overall wellness.
It’s important to understand the difference between adult chiropractic and chiropractic care for your child. Here are some considerations for finding the best chiropractic care for your child:
1) Consent extends to the patient and everyone in the room. The chiropractor should assure everyone in the room that they will not proceed without consent, including that of the child. If your child is not feeling it at the moment, you or your child should not be rushed – you should be encouraged to go take a walk, get a snack, or reschedule for a time your child is on board.
2) Children’s joints are not the same as those of adults. The chiropractor should discuss how the treatments are modified for children and explain what they will do BEFORE they do it.
3) A child doesn’t need a heavy treatment plan. If your chiropractor gives your child a treatment plan that’s longer than a month with more than 2 visits per week, this is a red flag. Children’s nervous systems and structures do not need a lot of treatments. The treatment plan should also include markers to gauge if you are getting the results you want. While healing takes time, you want to see some glimmer of hope early on.
4) Chiropractors are NOT trained to treat emotions, talk about stopping medications, or to tell you not to vaccinate your child. Ultimately, they should NOT override your pediatrician’s recommendations. If there is an issue, your chiropractor should call your child’s pediatrician to discuss their case.
A pediatric-trained chiropractor is a powerful member of your child’s healthcare team who can safely and naturally help keep your child well.
Dr. Brandie Keates has been a practicing chiropractor for 20 years. She opened her own practice in 2003, right after graduating from Cleveland Chiropractic College. Since struggling with her own difficult pregnancy in 2006, she has been using her knowledge of sports medicine to help pregnant and postpartum patients and their children find safe, effective pain relief. In 2018, she published “What You Don’t Expect When You’re Expecting,” a guide to helping women overcome pregnancy pain. Since then, she’s lectured on pediatric chiropractic care, pregnancy chiropractic care, and consent in chiropractic care. Today, her practice, Experience Chiropractic, is booming; a majority of her patients are pregnant or postpartum. Her mission is to educate and empower women and their healthcare providers.