Chiropractic Care for Children?

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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Is Chiropractic care for children a controversial topic? Point–of–view (POV) pieces, like the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine article cited below, may be viewed as a sound basis for more research, or as a “call to arms” for those who consider chiropractic an unsupported “fringe” therapy. This page is devoted to reviewing the literature supporting the benefits and need for chiropractic care for children.

Jump to: Recently Published

Review: Research by Category    
  Asthma Attention Deficit Blood Pressure
  Duodenal Ulcer Female Issues General Interest
  Immune System Otitis Media Psoriatic Arthritis


A reply to the Archives of Pediatrics article by the (former)
Research Director of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA)

I would like to applaud your publication for printing "Chiropractic Care for Children" by Lee ACC, Li DH and Kemp KJ. (See below) It is an admirable attempt to educate your readers about chiropractic methods of health care. However, there are several inaccuracies, which should be addressed. This letter was (later) published in Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2000 (Oct); 154 (10): 1063

Chiropractic Care for Children
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2000 (Apr); 154 (4): 401–407 ~ FULL TEXT

Considerable numbers of children and adolescents seek chiropractic care. Children made an estimated 20 million visits to DCs in 1993. According to a 1994 survey, DCs were the alternative practitioners most often consulted by pediatric patients. Although most adults (83%) consult DCs for musculoskeletal conditions, children frequently visit DCs for respiratory problems, ear, nose, and throat problems, and general preventive care. Common pediatric conditions treated by DCs include otitis media, asthma, allergies, infantile colic, and enuresis. However, randomized controlled clinical trials of chiropractic care for pediatric conditions are rare. One of the first such trials reported that chiropractic care offered no significant benefits for pediatric patients with asthma.

Kids Need Chiropractic, Too!
This page is a collection of articles by various authors about the need for, safety, and the benefits of chiropractic care for children.


Recent Research Projects

Prevalence of Nonmusculoskeletal Complaints in Chiropractic Practice:
Report From a Practice–based Research Program

Cheryl Hawk, DC, PhD, Cynthia R. Long, PhD, Karen T. Boulanger
J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2001 (Mar); 24 (3): 157–169

The following characteristics made patients more likely to present with nonmusculoskeletal chief complaints: being less than 14 years of age; being female; presenting in a small town/rural location; reporting more than 1 complaint, especially nonmusculoskeletal complaints; having received medical care for the chief complaint; and having first received chiropractic care before 1960.

Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders: A Review of Literature
Relative to Chiropractic Care of Children

J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2001 (Mar); 24 (3): 199–205

This article reviews 17 reports of pediatric epileptic patients receiving chiropractic care, and concludes that "Chiropractic care may represent a nonpharmaceutical health care approach for pediatric epileptic patients. Current anecdotal evidence suggests that correction of upper cervical vertebral subluxation complex might be most beneficial. It is suggested that chiropractic care be further investigated regarding its role in the overall health care management of pediatric epileptic patients."

Risk Assessment of Neurological and/or Vertebrobasilar Complications
in the Pediatric Chiropractic Patient

Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research (JVSR) 1998; 2 (2): 73–78

Reports suggest that chiropractic accounts for a large percentage of visits to alternative health practitioners. Moreover, pediatric patients represent a significant proportion of these visits. In light of this trend, it is important to evaluate the risk potential to the pediatric patient presenting for chiropractic care. This paper has reviewed literature concerning the occurrence of neurological and/or vertebrobasilar (N/VB) complications in patients receiving either specific chiropractic adjustments and/or non–specific manipulations of the spine.

Holistic Pediatrics = Good Medicine

Kathi J. Kemper, MD, MPH
PEDIATRICS 2000 (Jan); 105 (1) Supplement: 214–218

The author reasons to pediatricians that: "In most pediatric surveys, chiropractic is the number one therapy or alternative therapist seen by children." and that: "Another provider on the horizon always makes medical practitioners feel a bit threatened, and I think that is particularly so with chiropractors." She then suggested: "This growing presence leads me to make a couple of radical suggestions. First, we should begin to work with chiropractors and to talk with them about the things that we know and have learned about child health supervision. The majority of chiropractors in the United States belong to the American Chiropractic Association, and they do primarily focus on low back pain. Their treatment of children focuses on well–child care and health promotion. It will help us to share with chiropractors what we have learned about what does work: about safety seats, immunizations, hot water temperature, and poison control centers (as examples). The other key item is letting them know the real truth about immunizations and how helpful they are."

Children in Crashes
Daniel J. Murphy, DC, DABCO
Dynamic Chiropractic – October 5, 1998

Many of the concepts that pertain to adults in motor vehicle collisions also apply to children, including the basic principles of inertial acceleration/deceleration injuries, preparedness prior to impact, and rotation of the head or trunk prior to impact. Overall, studies indicate that the pattern of injury among children involved in motor vehicle collisions is similar to that of the general population.

Study Finds Benefits for Colic with Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation
Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research (FCER) ~ December 7, 1999

The first controlled randomized clinical trial involving the chiropractic management of infantile colic has just been published by a research group in Denmark at Odense University and in private practice. Although previous studies dating back over the last 10 years have been encouraging, this is the first demonstration of the clear clinical advantage conferred upon infants by spinal manipulation as compared to a control group given dimethicone, commonly used in medical treatment of colic.

A Feasibility Study of Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation Versus Sham Spinal Manipulation
for Chronic Otitis Media with Effusion in Children

J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1999 (Jun): 22 (5): 292–8 ~ FULL TEXT

Recruitment for a randomized controlled trial is feasible and could be enhanced by medical collaboration. Patients and parents are able and willing to participate in a study comparing active SMT and placebo SMT. Parents were extremely compliant with the daily diaries, suggesting that similar quality-of-life and functional status measures can be successfully used in a larger trial. We found the objective outcomes assessment involving tympanometry and otoscopy extremely challenging and should be performed by experienced examiners in future studies.


Other Abstracts by Category of Inquiry

NOTE: Here are some articles relating to the effect of chiropractic adjusting/manipulation on a variety of disease states. Please note that the list is far from exhaustive...these are just articles I found and collected during the years I was at Palmer College ('90-93). They are listed here because you might not otherwise find them, since many of them are from non–peer–reviewed journals.

I do not have the facilities (or permissions) to mail copies of these articles to our readers... please utilize your Chiropractic libraries if you require copies of any of them. Thanks in advance!

You will find MANY more articles like this at our:
Research Results for a Variety of Conditions


Bachman, Trent R & Lantz, Charles R
Management of Pediatric Asthma & Enuresis with Probable Traumatic Etiology
ICA Internat Rev Chiro 1995 (Jan): 37–40

Dennis, Damon
Manipulative Therapy an Alternative Treatment for Asthma: A Literature Review
Chiro: The J Chiro Res and Clin Invest 1992; 8 (2): 40–42

Lines, DH
"A Holistic Approach to the Treatment of Bronchial Asthma in a Chiropractic Practice"
Chiro J Aust 1993 (Mar); 23 (1): 4–8

 See Also: The Chiropractic And Asthma Page

   Attention Deficit Disorder  

Arme, Joseph
"Effects of Biomechanical Insult Correction on Attention Deficit Disorder"
J Chiro Case Reports 1993; 1 (1): 6–9

Barnes, Tracy A
A Multi–faceted Chiropractic Approach to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Case Report
ICA Internat Rev Chiro 1995 (Jan): 41–43

Giesen, J Martin
An Evaluation of Chiropractic Manipulation as a Treatment of Hyperactivity in Children
J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1989 (Oct); 12 (5): 353–63

 See Also: The Chiropractic and ADD/ADHD Page

   Blood Pressure  

Goodman, Robert
Hypertension and the Atlas Subluxation Complex
Chiropractic: The J Chiro Res & Clin Invest 1992; 8 (2): 30–32

Nansel, Dale
Effects of Cervical Adjustments on Lateral Flexion Passive End–range Asymmetry and on Blood Pressure, Heart Rate and Plasma Catecholamine Levels
J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1991 (Oct); 14 (8): 450–456

Nansel, Dale
Time Course Considerations for the Effect of Lower Cervical Adjustments with Respect to the Amelioration of Cervical Lateral Flexion Passive End–range Asymmetries, and on Blood Pressure, Heart Rate, and Plasma Catecholamine Levels
FCER's International Conference on Spinal Manipulation, 1990; 345–351

 See Also: The Chiropractic And Blood Pressure Page

   Duodenal Ulcer  

Pikalov, Andrei A
The use of Spinal Manipulative Therapy in the Treatment of Duodenal Ulcer: A Pilot Study
J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1994; 17 (5) June:  310–313

 See Also: The Chiropractic And Digestive Disorders Page

   Female Issues  

Liebl, Nancy A
A Chiropractic Approach to the Treatment of Dysmenorrhea
J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1990; 13 (2): 101–6

Robinson, Aldred G
Endometriosis and the Anterior Coccyx – Observations on 5 cases
Res Forum 1985 (Summer); 1 (4): 120–122 ~ FULL TEXT

Hains, Francois
Association Between Primary Dysmenorrhea and Pain Threshold at the Thoracolumbar Junction
FCER's International Conference on Spinal Manipulation, 1991; 106–109

Hubbs, Eric C
Vertebral Subluxation and Premenstrual Tension Syndrome: A Case Study
Res Forum 1986 (Summer); 2 (4): 100–102

Kokjohn, K.; Schmid, D.; Triano, J.; Brennan, P.
Pain and Prostaglandin Levels in Dysmenorrheic Women Following Spinal Manipulation
FCER's International Conference on Spinal Manipulation, 1991; 147–149

Stude, David E
Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding in a Woman with Concomitant Low Back and Lower Extremity Pain: Conservative Chiropractic Intervention
FCER's International Conference on Spinal Manipulation, 1991; 63–66

Wittler, Mark
Chiropractic Approach to Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Chiro: The J Chiro Res & Clin Invest 1992; 8 (2): 26–29

 See Also: The Chiropractic And Female Issues Page

   General Interest  

Terrett, Allan G
Cerebral Dysfunction: A Theory to Explain Some of the Effects of Chiropractic Manipulation
Chiro Tech 1993 (Nov); 5 (4): 168–173

Nansel, Dale
Somatic Dysfunction and the Phenomenon of Visceral Disease Simulation: A Probable Explanation
for the Apparent Effectiveness of Somatic Therapy in Patients Presumed to be
Suffering from True Visceral Disease

J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1995; 18 (6): 379–397
A landmark paper on visceral disease and chiropractic success/

Thabe, H
Electromyography as Tool to Document Diagnostic Findings and Therapeutic Results Associated with Somatic Dysfunctions in the Upper Cervical Spinal Joints and Sacroiliac Joints
Manual Medicine 1986; 2 (2) : 53–58
This is a phenomenal paper on the measured neurologic side–effects of the subluxation.

Sheres, BM
Treatment of Spinal Neuralgia, Cephalgia, Vertigo and Related Peripheral Conditions
Chiro Res J 1993; 2 (3): 17–31

Martin, Steven C
The Only Truly Scientific Method of Healing: Chiropractic and American Science, 1895–1990
ISIS History of Science Society 1994; 85 (2): 207–227
Tongue–in–cheek, or serious paper by an MD? decide

Patijn, J.; Durinck, J
Effects of Manual Medicine on Absenteeism
J Man Med 1991; 6 (2): 49–53

 See Also: Chiropractic And Wellness Page

 See Also: Chiropractic And Vertigo Page

 See Also: Chiropractic And Spinal Pain Management

 See Also: Chiropractic And Degenerative Joint Disease Page

   Immune Function  

Fidelibus, James C
An Overview of Neuroimmunomodulation and a Possible Correlation with Musculoskeletal System Function
J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1989; 12 (4): 289–292

Brennan PC, Kokjohn K, Kaltinger CJ, Lohr GE, Glendening C, Hondras MA, McGregor M, Triano JJ
Enhanced Phagocytic Cell Respiratory Burst Induced by Spinal Manipulation: Potential Role of Substance P
J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1991 (Sep); 14 (7): 399–408

Allen, JM
The Effects of Chiropractic on the Immune System: A Review of the Literature
Chiro J Aust 1993 (Dec); 23 (4): 132–135

Brennan, P.; Kokjohn, K.; Triano, J.; Fritz, T.; Wardrip, C.; Hondras, M.
Immunologic Correlates of Reduced Spinal Mobility: Preliminary Observations in a Dog Model
FCER's International Conference on Spinal Manipulation, 1991; 118–121

Graham, M.; Brennan, P.
Functional Ability of Natural Killer Cells as an Outcome Measure for Chiropractic Treatment Efficacy
FCER's International Conference on Spinal Manipulation, 1991; 84–96

Selano, J.; Hightower, B.; Pfleger, B.; Collins, K.; Grostic, J.;
The Effects of Specific Upper Cervical Adjustments on the CD4 Counts of HIV Positive Patients
Chiro Res J 1994; 3 (1): 32–39

Spector, Novera Herbert
"Anatomic and Physiologic Connections Between the Central Nervous and the Immune Systems"
Res Forum 1987 (Summer); 103–117

Vora, GS
"The Effects of Spinal Manipulations on the Immune System"
ACA J Chiro 1980; 14: S103–S105

 See Also: The Chiropractic And Immune Function Page

   Otitis Media  

Hendricks, C.; Larkin-Thier, S
Otitis Media in Young Children
Chiro: The J of Chiro Res & Clin Invest 1989; 2 (1): 9–13

Phillips, Nicholas
Vertebral Subluxation and Otitis Media: A Case Study
Chiro: The J of Chiro Res and Clin Inves 1992; 8 (2): 38–40

 See Also: The Chiropractic And Otitis Media Page

   Psoriatic Arthritis  

Lantz, C.; Pinto, A
Response of Psoriatic Arthritis Patient to Chiropractic Adjustments
FCER's International Conference on Spinal Manipulation, 1991; 72–75


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