The Presenting Complaints of Pediatric Patients
for Chiropractic Care: Results From
a Practice-based Research Network

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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FROM:   Clinical Chiropractic 2008 (Dec); 11 (4): 193–198

Joel Alcantara, DC

Research Director, International Chiropractic Pediatric Association,
Media, PA and Private Practice of Chiropractic,
San Jose, CA, USA

At the turn of the century, Lee estimated that approximately 30 million pediatric visits were made to chiropractors in 1997 in the United States. The cost of these office visits were also estimated at $1 billion of which $510 million was paid out-of-pocket by parents. Indications are that these visits continue to increase as indicated by the most recent 2003 Job Analysis of Chiropractic by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE). The NBCE estimated an 8.5% increase in the percentage of chiropractic patients under 17 years of age since their 1991 survey. From a general perspective, studies continue to document the wide range of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for a variety of conditions in children. Studies such as those of Spiegelblatt and others lend support to this notion and point to the popularity of chiropractic care for children. Chiropractic was founded on a holistic and vitalistic approach to patient care. With growing concerns to adverse drug reactions and the need for a more conservative approach to the care of their children, parents are opting for chiropractic care.

Despite the ever growing popularity of pediatric chiropractic, few studies, if any, report on the prevalence on the kinds and types (or reasons) of conditions presenting to chiropractic practices. To address this deficit and contribute to evidence-based practice, a study was undertaken to determine the types of conditions and reasons for parents to bring their children to chiropractors participating in a practice-based research network. In addition to characterizing geographic information (i.e., gender and age) of the parents and their children, we found that musculoskeletal conditions comprised a large percentage of the primary and secondary complaints in addition to the common diseases of childhood such as otitis media, enuresis, colic, etc. Based on our findings, we conclude that chiropractors address musculoskeletal conditions in the care of children as they do in adults. However, this is in addition to the non-musculoskeletal conditions of childhood. Furthermore, the musculoskeletal conditions addressed are of the type unlike those presented by adults lending further support to the unique considerations for this special patient population.

Presented at International Congress on Complementary Medicine Research. Sydney, Australia, March 2008.

Presented at International Society of Holistic Health 4th Annual Conference. September 2008.

Objective   The purpose of this study was to determine the range of presenting complaints by children (<18 years of age) to chiropractors and the reasons leading to attendance at a chiropractic clinic.

Methods   Chiropractors and parents of children attending for chiropractic care (range 1–12 visits) completed a self-administered questionnaire.

Results   Based on chiropractor and parent responses, “wellness care” was the most common reason for pediatric presentation. Of the indicated specific clinical presentations, musculoskeletal complaints were the most common followed by non-musculoskeletal conditions of childhood.

Conclusions   Pediatric presentation to chiropractors is for both musculoskeletal and non-musculoskeletal disorders in addition to wellness care.


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