For most, the first words that pop into their heads when they hear "chiropractic care" are pain and trauma. The belief that the presence of back or neck pain is the only reason to ever visit a chiropractor is actually a myth.
"The general population thinks of chiropractic care incorrectly as being pain-driven because most people think, ‘Oh you have pain - you have to go to the chiropractor,'" said Dr. Aaron Kovac, a licensed chiropractor.
Since 2003, Kovac has been providing chiropractic care in the Ahwatukee Foothills area at his clinic, Back in Line Chiropractic, 15215 S. 48th St. His patients range from athletes to entire families, including the newest additions: Newborns.
As a chiropractor, Kovac helps to free the body, no matter the age, of subluxations - misalignments of the vertebrae - to relieve nerve pressure that leads to decreased function and to increase vitality through the body.
Chiropractic care works with the muscular, skeletal and nervous systems, all in one. The central nervous system branches off of the spinal cord, so when a subluxation is present, the rest of the body may be affected.
"It's important to go to the chiropractor not only when you're hurt or in pain, but also when you're not," Kovac said. "The key is being proactive in your health care, versus reactive."
So, why is it important for newborns to be treated with chiropractic care?
"They're humans as well," Kovac said.
Newborns have the same nervous system as those of adults, and the birth process can be extremely traumatic on a child. The method of delivery can be damaging to a baby's spine, Dr. Kovac explained.
"The birth process could be hours and hours to minutes. It's really important for a baby's head and neck to be supported, but for hours and hours and hours, it was not supported when the doctor was pulling it out.
"The baby comes out screaming and yelling, but can't express what's wrong. There could be something going on with them chiropractically."
Because he is aware of the stress that is put onto babies' bodies during delivery, Kovac believes in treating them with extremely low force, mainly using his pinkies to apply pressure.
Laura Szoltysik, a patient of Kovac's, recently brought in her newborn, Caden, when he was just 5 days old. She learned about the benefits of chiropractic care for babies from her brother, a chiropractor in Chicago.
"Caden actually loved it. The doctor could really tell by how he was moving his legs," said Szoltysik, who plans on bringing him in every two weeks.
Having children in his clinic for chiropractic adjustments is a regular thing for Kovac. Because children can go into alignment easily, they can just as easily go out of alignment, he shared.
Parents may choose to bring them in as often as they wish, whether it be once a week or even once a month. He even treats his own children and keeps them on a "good maintenance basis."
"It depends on how the child is holding their adjustment," Kovac said.
Of course, some parents do hold reservations against chiropractic care for their young.
"A lot of parents are hesitant. I think once they understand it, and see other kids in here being adjusted, they see how gentle it is," Kovac said.
For further information on the benefits of chiropractic care on babies, Kovac recommends visiting the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association's website at www.icpa4kids.com. The ICPA conducts seminars as well as research and clinical studies regarding the connection to chiropractic care and health issues, such as asthma, headaches and indigestion.
• Ashley Haines is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a sophomore at Arizona State University.