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Colic and Chiropractic

Thursday, 30 October 2008 13:27

Colic is a disorder in which an infant has episodes of uncontrollable crying, which often occurs at a predictable times of day or night. However, some infants cry almost incessantly. About 10-20% of infants less than 4 months of age suffer from infantile colic. (1)   Although colic is not detrimental to an infant's health, it can place tremendous stress on the family.

While colic has been blamed on too much gas in the intestine, dietary problems and birth trauma (2) the precise cause of colic is not known today.  Researchers have investigated a wide variety of therapies, including formula changes, pharmacotherapy and infant positioning maneuvers, but study results have been conflicting, controversial and inconclusive. At present, behavioral management, supportive counseling and parental reassurance are the mainstays of treatment. However, no effective cure for this disorder is known. (3)

However, research is showing that chiropractic care can help.  Recently a randomized clinical trial (RCT) by Wiberg et al. has concluded "Spinal manipulation is effective in relieving infantile colic." (4)   The research team enrolled infants who were diagnosed with infantile colic. For a period of 2 weeks, half of the subjects underwent chiropractic spinal manipulation, while the other half received the drug dimethicone.  "From trial day 5 onward the manipulation group did significantly better that the dimethicone group," according to the report. Specifically, in the course of the 12 days of the study, the children receiving chiropractic adjustments saw a 67% reduction in crying and the drug group saw a 38% reduction in crying. The mean number of adjustments given during the 2 week study was 3.8.

This report adds to a growing body of scientific research that supports the efficacy of chiropractic care for children with colic. (5-9) In a prospective study of 316 children a satisfactory result occurred within 2 weeks in 94% of the cases receiving chiropractic care. 51% of these infants had prior, unsuccessful treatment, usually drug therapy (83%). (10)   In another study of 132 infant's with colic, 91% of the parents reported an improvement, which occurred after an average of two to three manipulations, and one week after the treatment started. (11)

As research indicates, chiropractic care for the correction of vertebral subluxation may play an important and effective role in the cessation of infantile colic.


  1. Becker K, Pauli-Pott U, Beckmann D   Infantile colic as maternal reason of consulting a pediatrician: characteristics of mother and child   Prax Kinderpsychol Kinderpsychiatr. 1998 (Nov);   47 (9):   625-40
  2. Michailov MK, Akberov RF.  X-ray symptomatology and differential diagnosis of functional obstruction of the digestive tract in children induced by birth injuries of the spine and spinal cord   Radiol Diagn (Berl) 1989;   30 (6):   669-74
  3. Balon AJ   Management of infantile colic   Am Fam Physician 1997 (Jan);   55 (1):   235-42, 245-6
  4. Wiberg JM, Nordsteen J, Nilsson N.  The Short-term Effect of Spinal Manipulation in the Treatment of Infantile Colic: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial with a Blinded Observer   J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1999 (Oct);   22 (8):   517-522
  5. Pluhar GR; Schobert PD;   Vertebral subluxation and colic: A case study   J Chiro Research and Clin Invest 1991;   7 (3):   75-6
  6. Killinger, LZ, Azad A. Chiropractic care of infantile colic: A case study   J Clin Chiro Peds 1998;   3 (1):   203-6
  7. Van Loon, M.   Colic with projectile vomiting: A case study   J Clin Chiro Peds 1998;   3 (1):   207-10
  8. Sheader, WE   Chiropractic management of an infant experiencing breastfeeding difficulties and colic: A case study   J Clin Chiro Ped 1999;   4 (1):   245-7
  9. Cuhel JM; Powell M. Chiropractic management of an infant patient experiencing colic and difficulty breastfeeding: A case report J Clin Chiro Ped 1997;. 2(2): 150-4
  10. Klougart N, Nilsson N, Jacobsen J   Infantile Colic Treated by Chiropractors: A Prospective Study of 316 Cases   J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1989 (Aug);   12 (4):   281-8
  11. Nilsson   Infant Colic and Chiropractic   Eur J Chiropr 1985;   33 (4):   264-265