102 Peters St Ste 1

North Andover, MA 01845

(978) 237-5106

CAM for Pediatric Conditions

By Dr. Janine Pulley

Chiropractic is the most commonly chosen type of CAM therapy for children, and chiropractic is most often used to help with musculoskeletal complaints.1 Although more research must be performed, preliminary studies have found that chiropractic care may help with a variety of conditions affecting children, such as asthma, enuresis (bed-wetting), colic, otitis media (ear inflammation), suboptimal breastfeeding, autism, and idiopathic scoliosis.1

Colic is a when an otherwise healthy baby has uncontrollable crying. It often shows up 2-3 weeks after the baby is born and lasts about 4-5 months at the longest. There are theories on why a baby can become colicky, such as it being a physical release for sensitive babies, related to maternal smoking, or an imbalance of the healthy bacteria in the baby’s gut.2 Chiropractors recognize that colic may also be caused by inflammation of the spinal nerves due to a misalignment of the vertebrae (spinal bones), which is why chiropractic has been found to help ease colic in some babies but not all of them.1

Asthma, enuresis, and otitis media (ear inflammation – not an ear infection) can also be due to spinal misalignment causing inflammation of the spinal nerves to the child’s lungs, urinary system, or Eustachian tubes of the ears, respectively. This inflammation can result in dysfunction in the organs, which is why chiropractic may help alleviate asthma, enuresis, and otitis media in children.1,3 If the child’s condition is due to something chiropractic cannot fix (such as a non-musculoskeletal problem like cancer, fracture, infection, or metabolic disorders), it is important to determine what is causing it and speaking to the appropriate doctor.

When a baby is born, especially in a difficult delivery, the spinal cord can be damaged due to traction (pulling) or rotational stresses on the baby’s trunk, pulling on the brachial plexus in the arm, or hyperextension  of the baby’s head. 60-75% of all spinal cord injuries occur in the neck area while 20% are in the upper back.3 If the spinal cord can become damaged during birth, it makes sense that the vertebrae, the bones that protect the spinal cord, may be pushed out of their optimal alignment. When the vertebrae are knocked out of their ideal position, it can prevent the child from moving properly or cause an alteration of their spinal cord. Therefore correcting the alignment of the spine can help alleviate both suboptimal breastfeeding and idiopathic scoliosis that are due to misalignments of the spine.1

Acupuncture is another safe and effective CAM5 that can also be helpful for treating conditions that affect children, such as asthma or allergies. When a child is under 12 years of age, needle acupuncture is generally not used – but when it is used, the child usually does not mind having the needles. Acupressure or tools like a shonishin are used to stimulate the body to restore balance and heal itself instead.

Just like adults, children’s qi or energy can become unbalanced, which can lead to a variety of health issues. Using acupuncture or acupressure can help restore this energetic balance to alleviate what is affecting the child. Although more research is needed to fully understand how acupuncture works from a Western model, it has been used for thousands of years in China. What research has been performed has found that acupuncture may help with childhood asthma,5,6 allergies,5,6 postoperative nausea,5 and nocturnal enuresis (bed-wetting).5

If your child is suffering from any of these conditions – allergies, asthma, enuresis, colic, otitis media, suboptimal breastfeeding, or idiopathic scoliosis – call 978-237-5106 to schedule a consultation to see if chiropractic or acupuncture could help!



1. Gleberzon BJ, Arts J, Mei A, McManus EL. The use of spinal manipulative therapy for pediatric health conditions: a systematic review of the literature. J Can Chiropr Assoc. 2012 Jun;56(2):128-41.

2. Colic: What is it? Babycenter.com Web site. http://www.babycenter.com/0_colic-what-is-it_77.bc?showAll=true. Updated March 2013. Accessed April 6, 2015.

3. Pohlman KA, Holton-Brown MS. Otitis media and spinal manipulative therapy: a literature review. J Chiropr Med. 2012 Sep;11(3):160-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jcm.2012.05.006.

4. Infant Spinal Cord Damage. Birth Injury Guide Web site. http://www.birthinjuryguide.org/birth-injury/types/spinal-cord-damage/. Updated 2015. Accessed April 6, 2015.

5. Jindal V, Ge A, Mansky PJ. Safety and efficacy of acupuncture in children: a review of the evidence. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2008 Jun;30(6):431-42. doi: 10.1097/MPH.0b013e318165b2cc.

6. Li XM. Complementary and alternative medicine in pediatric allergic disorders. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Apr;9(2):161-7. doi: 10.1097/ACI.0b013e328329226f.

April 6, 2015

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102 Peters Street Ste 1

North Andover, MA 01845-5049



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