Chatting With: Dr Matt Kan, Founder & Senior Consultant, Chiropractic First Spine & Nerve Clinic

Hi, Dr Matt Kan, thank you for agreeing to speak with us. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi, I’m Dr Matt Kan, Founder, Senior Consultant and CEO of Chiropractic First Group of Clinics. I graduated from world-renowned Palmer College of Chiropractic, the USA with Doctor of Chiropractic with Honours Summa Cum Laude (Valedictorian). 

Tell us about Chiropractic First. What services does the clinic offer?

Chiropractic First is a group of specialist clinics with more than 20 years of experience focusing on the spine and nerves. Our approach is to get to the root of the problem, resolve or reverse them. Thus, our purpose is to check and adjust every man, woman and child for subluxation (dislocation of the vertebrae) frequently and constantly.

We have more than 30 clinics across Singapore, Malaysia, China, Indonesia, Spain and the United Kingdom with the best chiropractors who are committed to serve and educate people on the principles of natural healing and chiropractic care for the entire family, including children and pregnant mothers.

What’s scoliosis, and how to look out for symptoms of poor posture and early warning signs of scoliosis?

Scoliosis is usually first seen in children and adolescents between the age of 8 and 18 but it can affect adults as well. In children, it can be a more serious condition because it can rapidly progress as the child grows. Scoliosis is a progressive, lateral curvature of the spine. When viewed from the back the spine is curved from side to side or in an “S” or “C”  shape while a normal spine should be running straight down the middle.  

Like tooth decay and cancer, scoliosis and subluxations may go unnoticed before any warning signs appear. Results of a thorough examination can show the location and severity of scoliosis and any subluxations that the child may have.

Parents and caretakers play an important role in the early detection of scoliosis, so they should watch out for the following signs in their children:

  • Difference in shoulder height
  • Difference in hip height or position
  • The head seems shifted to either side of the body
  • Uneven leg length
  • Uneven waist length
  • Prominent or bulging of the shoulder blade
  • Constant leaning to one side
  • Changes in gait/ how they walk

If you notice any of the signs above in your child, seek a chiropractor to have your child’s spine examined.

What are some of the factors that might contribute to scoliosis in young children?

In the majority of cases, the exact cause of scoliosis is unknown. A child may be born with it or can develop it later in life. Scoliosis is the most common spinal abnormality in school-age children and it is most often seen in children between the ages of 8 to 18. Scoliosis also tends to affect more girls than boys.

Possible causes of scoliosis can include:

  • Spinal defect at birth
  • Neuromuscular disorders such as spinal cord injury, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy
  • Differences in leg lengths
  • Injury to the spine such as falls or car-accidents
  • Infection
  • Tumors 

If a child already has scoliosis but it is not known to the parents, certain postural faults can worsen the existing abnormal curvature in the spine, such as: 

  • Sitting or standing for prolonged periods
  • Forward head and hunched back while seated
  • Carrying heavy backpacks daily
  • Looking at handheld devices for prolonged periods
  • Lack of physical activity

Many long-term clinical studies show postural imbalances can lead to spinal degeneration due to the extensive and persistent compression of the nerves, as well as a breakdown of the cartilage within the spine. If you continue to observe postural imbalances in your child despite improvements to their posture, you should consult a healthcare professional immediately.

What are the short and long term effects of uncorrected scoliosis among children?

The effects of living with scoliosis can be different from one person to another. In some cases of mild scoliosis, there could be no obvious symptoms or effects at all.

Certain short term effects of uncorrected scoliosis can be associated with:

  • Headaches
  • Neck pain or back pain
  • Hip, knee or leg pain
  • Reduced ability to perform at its full athletic potential
  • Physical deformity leading to lowered self-esteem

Long term effects of uncorrected scoliosis include:

  • Problems with sleeping
  • Problems with digestion 
  • Limitations in daily activities like walking or exercising
  • Difficulties in breathing due to compression of the chest cavity
  • Heart complications
  • Nerve injuries
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Irreversible degenerative changes in the spine, hips and knees

International guidelines indicate that children should be checked from the age of 6 for scoliosis and rotational musculoskeletal concerns. This is a baseline check that is meant to be repeated frequently.

Can you share with us tips and tricks on how to instil good postural habits in kids?

Ensuring that the chair and desk are appropriate in height for your child. The backrest of the chair should provide support from the shoulder down to the lower back. The chair should not be too high or too low, it should allow their feet to touch the ground.

Ensuring that the school backpacks are worn evenly over both shoulders. Avoid carrying heavy backpacks and if possible, get a stroller bag. 

Other than these, the parent should:

Lead by example

Instead of telling your kids to ‘sit up or stand up straight’, always be the role model to your children

Show and Tell

Show them how tall and classy they will look when they grow up with proper posture.  Motivate and encourage them to maintain good posture.

Encourage outdoor activities

With the ever-increasing adaptation of technology amongst children, the extended use of gadgets could potentially lead to children slouching and practising poor posture which is detrimental to their health in the long run.  Parents should encourage your child to be active and engage in various activities instead of using electronic devices.

Frequent visits to your chiropractor

Early detection is the key.  You should consult a chiropractor if you notice that your child is unable to stand upright or when your child complains of persistent back or neck pain that interferes with his or her daily activities.

We came upon videos of chiropractors treating a patient on the net a while back, and we heard these popping or cracking sounds. What were all those sounds? Is it safe?

If you’ve heard the popping and cracking from a chiropractic adjustment, it’s easy to assume that it is a sign of pain. However, it’s quite the opposite. These sounds occur when the joints are opened up and the fluid between the joints creates a release of gas.

However, not all chiropractic adjustments guarantee an audible popping sound as each doctor may choose to administer different chiropractic adjustment techniques. 

Truth is, you are most likely to feel immediate relief from pain or discomfort after adjustments. 

We want to thank you again, Dr Matt Kan, for doing this interview. For our readers who might be interested to learn more about chiropractic care, where can they contact you? 

While most people only seek a chiropractor when they are experiencing neck or back pain, seeking a chiropractor regularly for checks and adjustments can help prevent subluxation and maintain a healthy and optimal life. If you would like to have your spine checked by our professional chiropractors, contact us at 03 7725 9788, or you can also locate your nearest Chiropractic First clinics here: https://www.chiropractic-first.org/our-clinics/  

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We take our responsibilities seriously as a provider of free parenting resources. Our published articles are therefore written based on evidence-based information parents can rely on. Parenthood is hard. But it’s also the most rewarding. Our first goal is thus to make sure our content is concise, accurate and accessible.