Please read the “Quick Version” page first before reading this section about babies. The “Quick Version” will give you a good basic understanding of Structural Shifts and Structural Correction, which will help in your understanding of what happens with babies in particular here at Structural Spinal Care.

There is no escaping the fact that child birth is physically rough on both mom and baby. Sometimes, when there is trauma from birth, the baby’s head and neck can get shifted out of place. We at Structural Spinal Care call this a Structural Shift. In the medical field they call it KISS (Kinematic Imbalance due to Suboccipital Strain) or Craniocervical Junction Disorder.

No matter which name you choose, a birth does not need to be exceptionally horrible in order for a baby to have a Structural Shift. Virtually all babies who are born C-section, vacuum, or forceps have their head and neck shifted out of place, since they are being pulled out by the head and extreme strain is placed on the ligaments of the head and neck. Breech births commonly create Structural Shifts of the head and neck as well.

However, sometimes this Structural Shift of the head and neck happens during seemingly normal, unremarkable births as well. The baby’s head could get turned in the canal, putting twisting strain on the neck during a contraction. The baby’s head could be pressed at an angle against the cervix during labor, which would put abnormal stress on the baby’s head and neck. There are many unavoidable and unpredictable scenarios where this shift could happen without anyone knowing, and if you add in induction medications like pitocin, it increases the force of contractions and amplifies the stress and strain on the baby’s head and neck.

Ligaments are like the ropes that hold the head and neck in place, and when there is some type of birth trauma, those ligaments can get damaged, which is what forces the head and neck to shift out of place. This shift then starts to effect the Nerves and Brainstem, which can result in many Secondary Conditions. In the picture below, the Brainstem is in pink.

Most of the time, this Structural Shift is subtle, so most health care providers and parents overlook it or miss it if they are even checking for it. This is why Dr. Slagel has done so much training in identifying which babies do and do not have this shift.

Once the baby’s head and neck are shifted out of the correct position, this Structural Shift can put pressure on the Brainstem and Nerves in the upper neck. This is problematic because the Brainstem is the control center for things like:

  • Sucking Reflex
  • Vision and Eye Movement
  • Tongue Control
  • Muscle Development and Muscle Tone
  • Rooting Reflex
  • Sleep Patterning (Circadian Rhythms)
  • Alertness Regulation
  • Breathing
  • Blood Pressure
  • Digestion
  • Heart Rate Variability
  • Many Other Automatic Functions

If you would like to understand how so many functions are effected by Brainstem Pressure, take a look at the Vagus Nerve (Cranial Nerve 10). Here is a picture of the Vagus Nerve.

Notice how the Vagus Nerve starts up in the Brainstem (right between the Medulla Oblongata and the Pons) and travels down through the neck to many of the major organs in the body. So if there is an issue at the very beginning of the Vagus nerve (at the Brainstem), the organs on the other end of the nerve will be effected, just like if you put a kink in the very beginning of a hose, the garden growing at the other end will suffer from the alteration in water flow. This is an example of just one of the many nerves that can be impacted by Brainstem Pressure.

Once the Structural Shift of the head and neck has caused Brainstem Pressure, many Secondary Conditions can then develop in a baby, since so many functions in the body are directly controlled by the Brainstem. These can include:

  • Breastfeeding Problems
    • Latching Difficulty – Dysfunctional Muscle Control in the Jaw/Lips
    • Sucking Difficulty – Dysfunctional Sucking Reflex, So Baby Chomps Instead Of Sucking
    • Can Nurse On One Side But Not The Other – Head Is Shifted Out Of Place, Making Head Movement In That Particular Way Painful/Uncomfortable
    • Arching Back/Popping Off – Baby is Uncomfortable/In Pain Lying In That Position
  • Colic – Baby Cannot Get Comfortable Or Out Of Pain Due To Structural Shift Of The Head/Neck
  • Sleep Problems – Baby Only Sleeps For Short Amounts Of Time Due To Being Uncomfortable – Or Arousal State is Not Regulated Correctly And Is Overactive From Brainstem Pressure.
  • Acid Reflux (GERD) – Dysfunctional Esophageal Sphincter/Esophagus/Diaphragm Muscles From Pressure On Nerves Supplying Those Muscles
  • Bowel Movement Issues (Gas or Constipation) – Digestion and Peristalsis is Disrupted
  • Recurrent Ear Infections – Eustation Tube Gets Closed Off Due To The Structural Shift Of The Head/Neck, So Ears Cannot Drain Or Function Correctly
  • Abnormally Shaped Head – CSF Flow is Interrupted and Imbalanced Due To Structural Shift And Reshapes Skull
  • Strabismus (Cross Eyed) – Dysfunction Of The Cranial Nerves Coming From The Brainstem That Control The Eye Muscles
  • Inability To Turn Head – The Shift Of The Head/Neck Alter The Normal Biomechanics
  • Failure To Thrive – More Severe Cases Where The Effect Of The Brainstem Pressure Is Global In The Baby’s Body.

In some babies, the Secondary Conditions do not show up clinically for years or even decades. This is because the beginning of the Brainstem Pressure was “subclinical,” or not producing symptoms. Once that Structural Shift and Brainstem Pressure stay for years, the effects become cumulative, meaning every year, the Structural Shift causes further structural breakdown and the Brainstem Pressure causes more dysfunction until it gets bad enough to where the adolescent or adult one day begins to notice it and seek help for the presenting Secondary Conditions since they crossed the threshold from “subclinical” to “clinical.” The picture below shows what a child will stand like with a Structural Shift.

So, how do we fix this Structural Shift in order to relieve the Brainstem Pressure that is causing these Secondary Conditions in a baby?

Good question.

We start by measuring the Structural Shift. We take extremely precise Structural X-rays from highly specialized angles from all three dimensions. We take one from the front, one from the side, and one from the top to assess and measure the Structural Shift in the baby’s head/neck. This allows us to use those measurements to calculate the exact angle needed to correct that shift. Once that angle is calculated, Dr. Slagel is able to correct that Structural Shift in one visit without any twisting, cracking, or popping like a traditional chiropractor. The amount of pressure used by Dr. Slagel is around 2-3 grams of pressure, which is just enough to dimple the skin, or another way to describe it is less than the pressure used to take your pulse.

Once the shift is corrected, Dr. Slagel retakes the Structural X-rays to remeasure to make sure it is completely fixed. Once the correction is complete, the follow up visits are simply to confirm that it is still fixed and that the baby is recovering and healing up like we would expect. Ideally we do not need to adjust that baby again, because the head and neck have stayed positioned where they are supposed to. Dr. Slagel only needs to do one correction the majority of the time, and then he simply monitors it to make sure it stays corrected. So, we don’t typically need to take any more x-rays on any follow up visits. Once the baby is healed up and stable in that new correct position, then the baby is good to go!

If you would like a complementary consultation with Dr. Slagel to simply sit down and talk with him or to have him examine your baby at no charge, please click here. If you would like to read through what other parents have written about their experiences with
Dr. Slagel, click here.