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Chiropractic Research Review

Spinal Manipulation for Infantile Colic

According to the authors of this study, the most widely accepted definition of infantile colic is "unexplainable and uncontrollable crying in babies 0-3 months old for more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week and for 3 weeks or more, usually in the afternoon and evening hours." The incidence of infantile colic is estimated at between 8% and 49%, with an estimated average of about 22.5% in the general infant population.



Chiropractors and other health care professionals have treated infants with colic symptoms for many years with apparently good results. In fact, several studies seem to support the clinical observation that symptoms similar to those of infantile colic may be attributed to functional disturbances of the vertebral
image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
column. In this study, 50 infants who fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for infantile colic were randomized into two groups: a group that received spinal manipulation for two weeks (an average of 3.8 adjustments per child in the form of motion palpation to locate "articulations" found mostly in the upper and mid-thoracic area) and a group that received drug treatment (dimethicone) for two weeks.

Results are presented as follows:

* Trial Days 4-7: Hours of crying were reduced by 2.4 hours in the manipulation group compared with only one hour in the drug group.

* Trial Days 8-11: Crying was reduced by 2.7 hours in the manipulation group compared with one hour in the drug group.

* Trial Day 5 onward: The manipulation group was significantly more improved than the dimethicone group, which revealed little or no reduction in average colic hours per day after day five.

Results in the dimethicone group may actually be less favorable than these figures suggest. Five infants in this group dropped out before the studys completion: two were described by their parents as "worsened" and two others as "much worsened." In the authors' words, "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."

In the authors' words, "...the results of this trial leave open two possible interpretations. Either spinal manipulation is effective in the treatment of the visceral disorder infantile colic, or infantile colic is, in fact, a musculoskeletal disorder."

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. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, October 1999:22(8), pp517-22. Reprints: Tel: (800) 325-4177 (ext. 4350); Fax: (314) 432-1380

Chiropractic Research Review

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