Treating Infant Reflux With Chiropractic Care

Acid reflux can cause distress for babies and parents alike. However, the condition can be difficult to manage without medication or endless trips to the pediatrician. There is another option. Many parents and medical doctors overlook the possible role chiropractic care can have in managing and treating this condition.

A chiropractor can diagnose the underlying cause, teach known management techniques to reduce symptoms, and prescribe effective reflux therapies. When used alongside traditional care for your child, this could alleviate your concerns about their acid reflux.

What Is Infant Reflux and How Can Chiropractic Care Help?

Treating Infant Reflux With Chiropractic Care

According to Mayo Clinic, infant reflux is sometimes diagnosed as gastroesophageal reflux (GER) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Just like in adults, this condition results from acidic stomach contents flowing up into the esophagus and causing what we know as heartburn.

What Are the Symptoms of Infant Reflux?

Babies with infant reflux spit up much more than normal. This usually occurs just after feeding and is the most common symptom. Sometimes, they may even forcefully vomit. They frequently cough or gag when they experience reflux due to the acidic stomach contents irritating their throats. Hiccups and wet burps are also common.

The refluxing acid causes discomfort, leading these babies to show signs that could include:

  • Fussiness during feeding
  • Irritability shortly after feeding
  • Arching of the back during or immediately after feeding
  • Reluctance to continue feeding

Because reflux can interfere with feeding, these babies can suffer poor weight gain and possibly be diagnosed with failure to thrive. They may also have disrupted sleeping patterns because of the tendency of reflux to worsen when they are on their back.

How Will a Chiropractor Diagnose Infant Reflux?

Many babies receive their GER or GERD diagnosis from their pediatrician. However, they find the prescribed treatments ineffective or inadequate. This scenario is what leads them to a chiropractor for care. Alternatively, a chiropractor can diagnose and treat the condition from the start.

During your child’s initial intake exam for their symptoms, the doctor will take a health history. This history includes asking about symptoms, feeding habits, and any previous health concerns. Then, they will conduct a physical exam. This exam could be enough for a diagnosis when using non-invasive, non-medicinal treatments.

Sometimes, you may visit your child’s pediatrician or a hospital for diagnosis. They may opt to run additional tests before administering medications to treat reflux. These tests could include:

  • pH Monitoring: Testing can monitor the acid levels in the esophagus over 24 hours. This test can confirm if reflux is occurring.
  • Upper GI Series: An upper GI series requires the baby to drink a contrast liquid that allows the doctors to better see the esophagus, stomach, and parts of the small intestine on X-rays.
  • Endoscopy: An endoscopy allows doctors to look directly into the baby’s esophagus and stomach and take any necessary tissue samples. This test requires inserting a tiny camera through the mouth and into the stomach.

How Can a Chiropractor Help With My Baby’s Reflux Symptoms?

Chiropractors can assess possible causes of your baby’s reflux and prescribe a personalized plan to address them. This primarily focuses on reducing symptoms and preventing musculoskeletal imbalances from triggering reflux. These treatment plans include only gentle, safe, non-invasive adjustment techniques and therapies.

Infant chiropractic care must always be performed by a qualified, experienced practitioner with experience treating babies. Chiropractic care is not dangerous for pregnant women or babies, but it can complement treatment given by a pediatrician or gastroenterologist.

Sometimes, conventional medical reflux management is the best way to prevent long-term damage and ensure your child thrives. Parents should work collaboratively with their pediatrician, chiropractor, and other doctors as needed. All parties involved in their treatment should know the baby’s symptoms, medical history, and any concerns or contraindications.

Chiropractors generally approach injuries, conditions, and disorders holistically. They understand multiple factors likely contribute to your infant’s reflux and related symptoms. They will tailor their treatment plan to your child’s unique needs with the goal of reducing or eliminating the discomfort they experience.

What Treatments Will a Chiropractor Prescribe for Infants With Reflux?

The possible treatments your child might receive depend on the chiropractor’s assessment of their condition and the care they need to address it. Each care plan is unique and personalized to the diagnosis, severity of symptoms, and the family’s preferences.

Your child’s chiropractor should explain all parts of the treatment plan in clear, understandable language to put you at ease. They will answer your questions and help you understand what each therapy does for your child’s overall health and well-being.

Some techniques and therapies commonly used for infant reflex include:

Spinal Adjustments

Spinal manipulation is at the heart of chiropractic care. The practitioner will use gentle spinal adjustments to correct misalignments in the spine. Misalignments, especially in the neck, can contribute to impaired nerve function, limited range of motion, and digestive concerns, including reflux. With proper spinal alignment, the baby may feel better and have less reflux during and after feedings.

Cranial Adjustments

Cranial adjustments are similar to spinal adjustments but address misalignment or tension between the neck and the skull and between cranial bones. Using gentle techniques, chiropractors can adjust these areas to improve function in the cranial nerves. This is essential for proper swallowing.

Soft Tissue Therapies

Sometimes, tight muscles in the baby’s neck, shoulders, chest, or abdomen can contribute to reflux. Reducing tension and encouraging these muscles to relax can alleviate GER and GERD symptoms for these patients. To this end, chiropractors and physical therapists can use specific soft tissue techniques to reduce tension. Common examples include massage or myofascial release.

Lifestyle and Feeding Advice

Chiropractors take a holistic approach to treating medical concerns, including infant reflux. This holistic approach means they often offer solutions for practical issues patients face. When it comes to infant acid reflux, there are numerous tricks and techniques parents can use to reduce the symptoms and possibly eliminate the reflux entirely. These could work without additional medication, adjustments, or other care. However, most practitioners will recommend a multi-disciplinary approach.

Your child’s chiropractor may provide guidance on:

  • Optimal feeding positions
  • Specific feeding techniques for babies with reflux
  • Holding the baby upright during and after feedings
  • Techniques to prevent overfeeding
  • Tactics to reduce the air the baby swallows
  • Appropriate feeding schedules to reduce reflux

Your chiropractor will understand what exacerbates your child’s reflux symptoms. They will likely provide advice and guidance for reducing the risk of discomfort through lifestyle and feeding changes.

Monitoring and Follow-Up

Your baby’s chiropractor will closely monitor their progress as they proceed through their personalized treatment plan. The doctor may also schedule regular follow-ups to ensure they continue to respond well to the treatment they received.

Throughout their treatment, the doctor will assess and reassess their progress. They often modify adjustments and treatment plans as the baby’s needs change, and they respond to the therapies provided.

When Should I Consider Taking My Baby to a Chiropractor for Reflux Symptoms?

Some people are aware that chiropractors treat infant reflux, but they put off making an appointment for their child. Being a new patient with your baby is stressful. It can be a difficult decision because most people do not know what to expect when they see a chiropractor.

The truth is that the clinic’s design and compassionate staff will put you at ease, and you will have an opportunity to discuss any treatments, techniques, and therapies before they perform them.

Some situations when you should consider infant reflux treatment from a chiropractor include:

  • Conventional Treatments Fail: When you try all the conventional treatments and your child still has symptoms, it can be frustrating. You’ve likely gone through dietary changes, different medications, and many positioning techniques. Because chiropractic care is gentle and non-invasive, you have nothing to lose. It will not harm your child and may help alleviate their acid reflux symptoms.
  • Frequent and Severe Symptoms: If your infant is having persistent reflux or has severe symptoms that cause problems with feeding, weight gain, and proper sleep hygiene, they need treatment quickly. A multi-disciplinary approach that includes chiropractic care could help your baby eat and sleep more comfortably.
  • Signs of Musculoskeletal Involvement: Some infant reflux symptoms point to misalignments or other musculoskeletal issues. This could include neck stiffness, unusual muscle tightness, and arching of the back. If your infant has these symptoms when they are experiencing acid reflux discomfort, the issues might be related. A chiropractor can assess their condition and determine their needs.
  • Pediatrician’s Recommendation: More and more pediatricians are willing to recommend chiropractic care as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for babies and young children. If your pediatrician suggests that chiropractic care might benefit your baby’s acid reflux, do not hesitate to make an appointment.

Make an Appointment at One of Our Three Chiropractic Clinics Today

Specific Care Chiropractic offers infant reflux adjustments and therapies at all three of our clinics, including in Cape Coral, Fort Myers, and Lehigh Acres. Contact us today by calling our number to make an appointment.