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Colic: Chiropractic Can Help

Thursday, 30 October 2008 13:26

Colic is defined as an unexplainable and uncontrollable crying in babies from 0 to 3 months old, more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week, for 3 weeks or more, usually in the afternoon and evening hours.  The incidence is thought to be about 22.5%.   Colic places babies at a high risk for child abuse, including CNS damage or death from shaken baby syndrome.

A recent study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiologic Therapeutics (1) has concluded,  "Spinal manipulation is effective in relieving infantile colic".  For a period of two weeks, half of the subjects underwent chiropractic spinal manipulation, while the other half received the drug dimethicone. All of the adjusted babies stayed in the study, while only 64% of the dimethicone babies completed the two-week study.  In the course of the study, the children being adjusted saw a 67% reduction in crying and the drug therapy group saw only a 38% reduction in crying.  The mean number of adjustments given during the two-week study was 3.8.

One might question the effect of the dropouts from the drug group. The authors commented on this as follows: "By excluding data from the dropouts, we are excluding more severe cases from the dimethicone group, and this has the effect of making that group appear better than it actually was. Thus we are introducing a serious bias against showing a positive effect of spinal manipulation, and despite this, the manipulation group did significantly better."

The findings of this report echo the results of another recent report entitled "The efficacy of chiropractic spinal adjustments ments as a treatment protocol in the management of infantile colic" by Mercer and Cook of South Africa. 

Thirty infants from the general public between the ages of 0-8 weeks were randomly divided into two treatment groups.  All participating infants were diagnosed as suffering from infantile colic by pediatrician before inclusion into the study. The infants were allocated into the placebo or the experimental group according to the random sampling technique.

The results obtained from the study demonstrated a significant difference in the response to treatment by the experimental group as opposed to the control group.  Complete resolution of symptoms was found by 93% of the infants within the two-week treatment period with a maximum of six treatments. In addition, no recurrence of the infantile colic was observed in any experimental infant between cessation of treatment and the follow-up interview one month later.

Similar results have also been found in a study of 316 children where 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%). (2) In yet 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. (3)


  1. Wiberg JMM, 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
  2. 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
  3. Nilsson N   Infant Colic and Chiropractic   Eur J Chiropr 1985;   33 (4):   264-265