What Makes Children’s Bones Different From Adult Bones?

Children's bones are different from adult bones. Two young girls look at a model of an adult skull bone.

When it comes to treating children, it’s important to remember kids are not just small adults. Kid bones differ from adult bones in significant ways, which affects the type of care they need to heal properly.

But what makes children’s bones different from adult bones?

Here are some ways kid and teen bones are different from adult bones and reasons why seeing a chiropractor that has studied further in the paediatric field matters:

1. Babies have more bones than adults.

An adult has 206 bones, but a newborn baby has nearly 300 bones in her body. This is because babies have more flexible cartilage (a firm tissue softer than bone) in the body. As the child grows, some of the cartilage hardens and turns into bone, and some bones fuse together. The cranial bones in particular are much softer and malleable in the first 3-6 months of life compared to 6-12 months compared to young children and eventually adults. This is why cranial based treatments for conditions such as plagiocephaly (flat/wonky head) have better resolution the younger they begin treatment.

2. Children’s bones are continuously growing.

Your child’s bones won’t stop growing until their late teens or early 20s. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage. As a child’s bone grows, it is likely to remodel and realign itself. This means if a broken bone is crooked, it can straighten itself out over time. On the other hand, if a break occurs in the growth region at the end of a bone, also called the growth plate or physis, it may impact normal growth and cause significant deformity of the limb. It also means that during peak growing periods the growth plate area can get inflamed especially if there is an underlying misalignment or muscle tightness occurring. Keeping kids bodies well aligned may help prevent growth plate inflammatory issues such as Sever’s in the heel and Oshgood Schlatters Disease in the knee. 

3. Kids’ bones are more flexible than adults’ bones.

An adult’s bones are harder, more brittle and more likely to break than bend. A child’s bones are more flexible because their composition is different than that of adult bones. This means a kid’s bone might bend or “bow” instead of breaking. This is why chiropractic techniques for children are quite different then those applied to adults. Our Ohana chiropractors continually update their skills in treating children and specialise in low force techniques. 

4. Children are often more active than adults.

Paediatric chiropractors create treatment plans tailored specially for the on-the-go child. This is why many chiropractors recommend check ups at periodical times to find and correct any little issues before they become big issues.

5. Kids’ ligaments are stronger than parts of their bones.

Ligaments are tough bands of tissue that connect bones to bones. Because kids’ ligaments are stronger than their bones, they tend to get different kinds of bone and joint injuries than adults do. For example, children rarely sprain their ankles; instead, they break them through the growth plate. This is why x-rays are sometimes required before treatment. 

6. Children’s bones are smaller than adults’ bones.

This makes reading kids x-rays very interesting. It is also why treatment is so point specific with kids. 

As you can see from reading these 6 points, children’s bones are quite different to adult bones and as such should be treated differently. Seeing a chiropractor with experience in paediatric care and the Ohana team can help you out with an appointment. Contact us today to discuss how we can help or make a booking online here.

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