Can Chiropractors Help Children With Infantile Colic?

For both mother and baby, infantile colic gives them something to cry about.

 

Your chiropractor understands that when a child is inconsolable, it’s not only the child who suffers. A colicky infant can easily affect the psychological, emotional and physical health of the entire family. This is why chiropractors urge parents to seek immediate care if the infant is exhibiting signs of colic.

 

According to medical literature, infantile colic is diagnosed by the rule of three:

  1. Crying for more than three hours per day.
  2. Crying for more than three days per week.
  3. Crying for longer than three weeks in a month for an infant who is well-fed and healthy.[i]

 

Medical experts have yet to come to a consensus regarding the cause of colic. One of the most common theories is that the infant is having digestive difficulties, including excessive gas or reflux. Mothers who breastfeed are recommended to avoid dairy products for a week to see if it helps reduce the symptoms of colic.[ii]

Chiropractors on the other hand suggest that we look to the spine. Natural childbirth can be traumatic for the immature human spine, with the neck and head experiencing a great degree of compression, rotation, extension and traction.

 

When treating an infant, your chiropractor examines the child’s spine, locates areas that do not appear to be aligned and/or moving properly, and then applies gentle pressure to reestablish proper mechanics for the involved vertebrae. The result: happier babies, and happier parents!

Research supports the use of chiropractic care for babies who are experiencing the symptoms of infantile colic. Often, only a few adjustments are needed to produce dramatic results. [iii][iv][v][vi]

In one such case, a 7-week old infant presented with medically diagnosed colic that was persistent since birth. Symptoms included reflux and disturbed sleep. Vertebral subluxation complex patterns were noted in the spine of the baby. In less than three weeks of treatments, this infant achieved complete resolution with chiropractic adjustments to the spine.[vii]

In yet another study, three hundred and sixteen infants with moderate to severe colic with an average of 5.2 hours of crying per day were treated, and their responses to care were reported by their mothers in a prospective survey. Ninety-four percent of the children showed a satisfactory response with an average of only three treatments within two weeks. One quarter of these infants showed great improvement after the first chiropractic adjustment![viii]

In 1999, one of the most compelling studies was undertaken to investigate the effect of spinal manipulation in the treat5ment of infantile colic versus medication. Fifty infants were recruited and randomly assigned to two groups: dimethicone medication daily for two weeks or spinal manipulation for two weeks by a local chiropractor. The infants in the chiropractic group received an average of 3.8 adjustments.

During the two week treatment period, the parents kept a colic diary and nurses visited the families to administer a weekly infantile colic behavior profile.

Although all of the chiropractic patients completely the entire course of treatments, 9 out of 25 subjects dropped out from the medication side. When parents were asked why they left the study, two described their child’s condition as “worsened” and two others described it as “much worsened”. Had these four infants completed the study, they would have significantly lowered the apparent positive effects of dimethicone. This study strongly suggests that chiropractic treatments are a valid treatment option for children with infantile colic. [ix]

It’s important to note here that none of the chiropractors delivering the care in these studies were claiming to be treating colic. They were adjusting the infants who were exhibiting colicky symptoms.

Next time you hear someone complaining about their baby’s incessant crying, mention to them that chiropractic care may be able to help.

[i] Am Fam Physician. 2004 Aug 15;70(4):735-40

[ii] Hill, D et al. Effect of a Low-Allergen Maternal Diet on Colic Among Breasted Infants: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Pediatrics 2005; 116:e709-e715

[iii] Hipperson, AJ. Chiropractic Management of Infantile Colic. Clinical Chiropractic 2004; 7(4):180-186.

[iv] Van Loon, M. Colic With Projectile Vomiting: A Case Study. Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics 1998 Aug; 3(1):207-10.

[v] Sheader, WE. Chiropractic management of an infant experiencing breastfeeding difficulties and colic: a case study. Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics, 1999 4(1).

[vi] Pluhar GR, Schobert PD. Vertebral subluxation and colic: a case study. Journal of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation 1991; 7:75-76.

[vii] Hipperson, AJ. Chiropractic Management of Infantile Colic. Clinical Chiropractic 2004; 7(4):180-186.

[viii] Klougart N, Nilsson N and Jacobsen J. Infantile colic treated by chiropractors: a prospective study of 316 cases. J Manip Physiol Ther 1989: 12(4): 281-288.

[ix] Wiberg JMM, Nordsteen J, Nilssen N. The short-term effect of spinal manipulation in the treatment of infantile colic: A randomized controlled clinical trial with a blinded observer. J Manip Physiol Ther 1999; (22):517-22

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