What Is Colic?
Colic is the diagnosis given to infants that cry excessively for an unknown reason, and is possibly linked to digestive pains or temperament (sensitivity to environment).
Who Does Colic Affect?
Colic affects infants, more often bottle fed than breast fed, typically in the first month of life.
What Causes Colic?
A possible cause is thought to be related to abnormal gut flora (stomach and intestinal bacteria). That is a lack of normal bacteria found in the gut that helps the digestion. Abnormal digestion or breakdown of food may cause excessive gas production and abdominal pain and cramping. There is not a universally accepted cause of infantile colic.
Other causes may be spinal in origin. Irritation to the joints of the spine can irritate the nerves in the body. This so called ‘nerve interference’ may cause altered function of different organs in the body including the intestinal tract. The reason Chiropractors suggest that spinal misalignment is a possible cause of infantile is due to the dramatic results of Chiropractic treatments in improving infants with colic. See below for more information.
Examination Procedures for the Diagnosis of Colic
Although there are no specific tests for colic, several procedures may be performed:
· A dietary history may reveal hypersensitivities to certain foods including dairy, broccoli, cauliflower, onions etc;
· Postural evaluation of the infant. Because the infant cannot stand up on their’ own, Chiropractors often ask the parent or care giver to hold the baby upside down for a brief period. When upside down, the infant’s body should relax and hang straight, but when joint irritation, mis-aligned spine segments, or muscle spasm are present, the infants postural will be abnormal. Figure 1A depicts an abnormal posture in an infant with colic type symptoms. Note that the shoulders are tilted and the head is tilted.
· Chiropractors may also take specific spinal x-rays on some infants. In cases where the infant has had head or neck injury due to falls of the changing table, out of cribs, or forceps and vacuum distraction deliveries, the cervical/neck region of the spine can be damaged and mis-aligned. Only properly taken x-rays can identify true spinal misalignments and injuries.
Figure 2. Shown in A, an infant being held upside down briefly so the Chiropractor can determine the abnormal posture. When upside down, the infant’s body should relax and hang straight, but when joint irritation, mis-aligned spine segments, or muscle spasm are present, the infants postural will be abnormal. Note that the shoulders and head are tilted. In B, a corrective postural adjustment is performed by a Chiropractor with the use of a gentle adjusting instrument.
Common Chiropractic & Other Conservative Treatments
Treatment for colic may be include the following:
· Spinal joint manipulations or adjustments ;
· Corrective postural adjustments of the head, neck and spine to balance out the neuromusculoskeletal system (See Figure 1B);
· Nutritional supplementation of probiotics (natural stomach and intestinal bacteria);
· Gripe water, Fennel, dill or chamomile to balance or help increase normal flora and digestion in the gut.
Common Medical Interventions
Medical treatment may consist of simethicone or dicyclomine to help release trapped gas or reduce intestinal spasms. Due to the common adverse risks associated with these drugs categories1 it is our opinion that Chiropractic treatments should be attempted initially for those infants with spinal and joint involvement.
Chiropractic Care May Have a Positive Influence on Infantile Colic
Several outcome investigations have been performed using a variety of conservative Chiropractic procedures aimed at improving the impairment and disability associated with Infantile Colic. These include 2 randomized clinical trials, 1 case control investigation, and numerous case reports in the Chiropractic, peer-reviewed literature.2-19
Collectively, these investigations indicate that infants benefit from a Chiropractic intervention aimed at improvement in and/or restoration of a spinal abnormality (termed vertebral Subluxation).2-19 Thus, Chiropractic adjustments, advice, and rehabilitation procedures offer a safe and effective means of an initial course of treatment for infants suffering from colic induced health disorders.
- Moore TJ, Cohen MR, Furberg CD. Serious adverse drug events reported to the food and drug administration; 1998-2005. Archives Internal Med 2007;167(16):1752-1759.
- Burnier, Arno DC. The Side Effects Of The Chiropractic Adjustment. Chiropractic Pediatrics 1995; 1:22-24.
- Cuhel, Janet M.; Powell, Mike. Chiropractic Management Of An Infant Patient Experiencing Colic And Difficulty Breastfeeding: A Case Report. Journal Of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics 1997; 2:150-154.
- Davies, Neil J DC. Chiropractic Management Of Irritable Baby Syndrome. Chiropractic Journal Of Australia 2007; 37:25-29.
- Hewit, Elise G. Chiropractic Care And The Irritable Infant. Journal Of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics 2004; 6:394-397.
- Hipperson, Andrea. Chiropractic Management Of Infantile Colic. Clinical Chiropractic 2004; 7:180-186.
- Killinger, Lisa Z DC; Azad, Ayla DC. Chiropractic Care Of Infantile Colic: A Case Study. Journal Of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics 1998; 3:203-206.
- Klougart, Niles DC; Nilsson, N; Jacobsen, J. Infantile Colic Treated By Chiropractors: A Prospective Study Of 316 Cases. Journal Of Manipulative And Physiologic Therapeutics 1989; 12:281-287.
- Krauss, Lori DC. Case Study: Infants Inability To Breast Feed. Chiropractic Pediatrics 1994; 1:27-30.
- Krauss, Lori DC. Case Study: Birth Trauma Results In Colic. Chiropractic Pediatrics 1995; 2:10-11.
- Leach, Robert A D.C.. Differential Compliance Instrument In The Treatment Of Infantile Colic: A Report Of Two Cases. Journal Of Manipulative And Physiologic Therapeutics 2002; 25:58-62.
- Olafsdottir, E; Forshei, S; Fluge, G; Markestad, T. Randomised Controlled Trial Of Infantile Colic Treated With Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation. Arch Dis Child 2001; 82:138-141.
- Peet, Jennifer B. The Chiropractic Analysis And Care Of A 6 Month Old Male With Colic: A Case Study. American Journal Of Clinical Chiropractic 2000; 10:23-23.
- Pluhar, George; Schobert, PhillipD. Vertebral Subluxation And Colic: A Case Study. The Journal Of Chiropractic Research And Clinical Investigation 1991; 7:75-76.
- Rome, Peter L. Case Report: The Effect Of A Chiropractic Spinal Adjustment On Toddler Sleep Pattern And Behavior. Chiropractic Journal Of Australia 1996; 26:11-14.
- Sheader, Wesley E DC. Chiropractic Management Of An Infant Experiencing Breastfeeding Difficulties And Colic: A Case Study. Journal Of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics 1999; 4:245-247.
- Van Loon, Meghan PT, DC. Colic With Projectile Vomiting: A Case Study. Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics 1998; 3:207-210.
- Wiberg, Jesper M DC; Nordsteen J DC; Nilsson N DC, MD, PhD. 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 Physiologic Therapeutics 1999; 22:517-522.
The primary purpose of this list of and general discussion of health conditions is to inform the public of the possibility that use of Chiropractic care may be associated with positive improvements in a variety of health conditions for patients actively undergoing Chiropractic care. Many of these symptoms require co-management and/or referrals to other health care specialists. This information is not intended, nor should it be used, to diagnose or treat any individual’s unique health condition.