Integrity Chiropractors understand that when a baby is in distress and inconsolable, it’s not only the child who suffers. A colicky infant affects the psychological, emotional and physical health of the entire family. At Integrity, all of the doctors are parents too, we get it.

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. 1

Experts have yet to come to a consensus regarding the cause of colic, but the most common theory is that the infant is having digestive difficulties, including excessive gas or reflux Breastfeeding moms are even recommended to avoid dairy products to see if it helps reduce the symptoms of colic. 2

Chiropractors and even some medical doctors agree to look at the spine. Childbirth can be traumatic for the immature human spine, with the neck and head experiencing a great degree of compression, rotation, extension and traction. Even an uncomplicated birth can have some negative effects for baby.

When an infant is brought to Integrity Chiropractic for colic issues, we first take vital signs and go through a history with the mother. Afterward our doctors examine ranges of motion, primitive reflexes, perform orthopedic/neurological tests and examine the child’s spine. For infant care, Integrity chiropractors locate areas of the spine that have decreased mobility or are not moving properly, and then apply gentle pressure to reestablish proper mechanics for the involved vertebrae. The result: happier babies, and happier parents!
In a case study, a 7-week old infant presented for chiropractic care with a medically diagnosed colic with reflux and disturbed sleep that was persistent since birth. Vertebral subluxation (spinal fixation) 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. 3

Additional published case studies support the use of chiropractic care for babies who are experiencing infantile colic symptoms. Often, only a few adjustments are needed to produce dramatic results. 4-6

In a prospective survey study, 316 infants with moderate to severe colic (average 5.2 hours of crying per day) were treated with chiropractic care. Responses to care were tracked by their mothers and compiled.

Ninety-four percent of the children showed a favorable response with an average of only three treatments within two weeks. Twenty-five percent of these infants showed great improvement after the first chiropractic adjustment! 7

In 1999, an RCT study was performed to investigate the effect of spinal manipulation in the treatment 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 and administered a weekly infantile colic behavior profile.

All of the chiropractic patients completed the entire course of treatments (100%). However, 9 out of 25 subjects (36%) 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.

The results above shows the number of Colic Hours per day were reduced 50% better in the chiropractic group than the Dimethicone group, which strongly suggests that chiropractic is a valid treatment option for children with infantile colic. 8

In our office, Integrity chiropractic, we see 15-20 cases like this every year, and just as the research found, colic symptoms reduce favorably in just a few short weeks. So if your baby has colic symptoms, or the next time you hear someone complaining about their baby’s incessant crying, mention to them that chiropractic care may be able to help.

References and Sources:
1. Am Fam Physician. 2004 Aug 15;70(4):735-40.
2. Hill, D et al. Effect of a Low-Allergen Maternal Diet on Colic Among Breastfed Infants: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Pediatrics 2005; 116: e709-e715.
3. Hipperson, AJ. Chiropractic Management of Infantile Colic. Clinical Chiropractic 2004; 7(4):180–186.
4. Van Loon, M. Colic With Projectile Vomiting: A Case Study. Journal Of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics 1998Aug; 3(1): 207-10.
5. Sheader, WE. Chiropractic management of an infant experiencing breastfeeding difficulties and colic: a case study. Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics, 1999; 4(1).
6. Pluhar GR, Schobert PD. Vertebral subluxation and colic: a case study. J of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation 1991; 7:75-76.
7. 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.
8. 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 Manip Physiol Ther 1999; (22): 517-22.