St. Paul Chiropractor Blog

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Chiropractic for ADHD in Children

CHIROPRACTIC-ADHDAttention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a neurobehavioral condition common in school age children, characterized by a lack of concentration and the inability to control impulsive behavior. Whereas many parents of small children may view such activity as typical, in the ADHD child they are at such an extreme end of the spectrum that learning becomes difficult. Disruptive actions may also threaten the education of other students as teachers struggle to contain the affected individual.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 5 million children in the US (nearly 10%) have been diagnosed as having ADHD, this statistic having risen by 22% between 2003 and 2007. Prevalence is two to three times more common in boys than girls.

[box]Since it is normal for many children to display some of the signs of ADHD, diagnosis is very much at the discretion of the treating doctor. As such, a large number of professionals within both medicine and education have voiced concern that many highly imaginative and energetic children may be wrongly labeled as having the disorder.[/box]

Untreated ADHD may linger into adulthood, giving rise to problems in obtaining and keeping employment and increasing the risk of other mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Social exclusion is also a very real concern.

Medicine & ADHD

Current medical treatment strategies for ADHD include behavior management, parental education and often medication with stimulant drugs such as Ritalin.

While Ritalin may have some short-term success, medicating school age children using a drug with similarities to both cocaine and amphetamine understandably troubles many parents and health professionals. Long-term evidence of its efficacy remains unproven and several problematic side-effects have been recorded, including slight delayed growth, cardiovascular problems and withdrawal reactions.

[box]From a holistic perspective, stimulating an already hyperactive child with psychoactive medication is viewed as a counter-productive measure.[/box]

Chiropractic Care & ADHD

With its emphasis on the health of the spine and nervous system, chiropractic care has justifiably been sought by many parents as an alternative to conventional medical treatment. In addition to correcting any postural and structural misalignment that may adversely affect nervous system function, chiropractors are also able to offer a range of advice on lifestyle choices and nutrition that can both help to manage the symptoms of ADHD and sometimes resolve the problem altogether.

As a holistic system, chiropractic looks at all the systems of the body to provide a complete picture of health and, since ADHD often co-occurs with other medical and behavioral problems, this may provide important evidence for the underlying physical or neurochemical causes behind the illness.

A recent review of chiropractic treatment of ADHD at one clinic suggests definite benefits of chiropractic care for a range of symptoms including hyperactivity, attentiveness and impulsive behavior, as well as improving both emotional and social well-being. With this in mind, and given the lack of a safe and proven medical alternative, it is believed that chiropractic therapy, along with other complementary and alternative approaches to the treatment of ADHD, will become much more widely used in coming years.

Every body is different. If you have questions about this article or whether chiropractic is an appropriate choice for your specific situation, please ask.  As your Mendota Heights Chiropractor, we are here to help!



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7 comments… add one
  • Clay Conner

    February 23, 2013, 8:19 pm

    Excellent post on ADHD! In 2012, 4 BILLION prescriptions were dispensed in the US costing $300 billion. That works out to about 13 for every man, woman and child (315 million people). The entire chiropractic industry was about $10 billion or about 3% of what was spent on prescription medication. Total healthcare costs were $3 trillion, so chiropractic care was only 0.3% of total healthcare. Chiropractic is a low cost, natural, safe and proactive solution that we need to aggressively pursue as a first choice for a myriad of problems and preventative. Keep up the great work!

  • docjoel

    February 26, 2013, 10:13 am

    Thanks, Clay! It is staggering to think of when you look at the numbers. The cycle of dependency on medication for every ache, symptom and condition needs to be broken if the healthcare crisis is going to improve. Chiropractic fills the gap and offers drug-free hope to this problem!

  • Paula

    February 26, 2013, 8:45 pm

    While I do think Chiropractic is very useful, I am very wary of the nutrition advice given by Chiropractors who are prescribing supplementation without having specific knowledge of the actual needs of the body. The Chiro that I saw actually made out symptoms worse by the supplementation he prescribed. Not only did I spend a mint on two boys to see this “expert” I have also learned that doctors , chiropractors specifically should not dabble in spectrum disorders. Yes there is fantastic work being done with nutrition and supplementation , but without a comprensive understanding of the biochemistry involved In these types of neurological disorders, one size does not fit all. Please consider that medical docs who know the power of nutrition and have the background can safely give you supplementation advice. Products like Standard Process are jot suitable for many kids on the spectrum due to the cross contamination of allergens. I know people mean well , but honestly they need to consider the harm that they also can do.

  • docjoel

    February 28, 2013, 9:24 am

    Thanks for your comment, Paula. I’m really sorry that you had a bad experience with the chiropractor that your sons saw. The last paragraph in my article states, “every body is different” so I definitely agree that one size does not fit all. You’re right that spectrum disorders can be very complex and multiple variables can be at play. To take a medical approach to a condition like ADHD with supplements is not much different. What I mean by that is treating symptoms with a drug or a supplement is still just that…treating symptoms. There is a saying in chiropractic that, “the body needs no help, it just needs no interference.” That sounds trite, but it means that chiropractors are working with the body’s innate healing ability. Our first priority is removing interference to the body’s nerve system which controls every other function of the body. The knee-jerk reaction I’m hoping people avoid is merely medicating symptoms. I know that many people have been helped naturally by restoring balance to their body. I appreciate your input and perspective and welcome any questions you may have!

  • Emory Kotara

    June 7, 2013, 1:24 am

    Academic difficulties are also frequent. The symptoms are especially difficult to define because it is hard to draw a line at where normal levels of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity end and clinically significant levels requiring intervention begin. To be diagnosed with ADHD, symptoms must be observed in two different settings for six months or more and to a degree that is greater than other children of the same age.

  • Tara

    June 26, 2013, 12:14 pm

    @Paula – my boys are also on the spectrum – thank you for the advice – I’ve always had positive experiences at the chiropractor but they should definitely be careful about giving nutrition advice in cases they aren’t familiar with!

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