Colic is defined as excessive, inconsolable crying of the infant. The management may range from parental attempts for baby positioning, stomach massage, maternal dietary changes for the breast fed baby, formula changes, chiropractic spinal and meningeal care, homeopathic remedies, herbal teas and allopathic drugs.

Peer Reviewed Journals:

1) Kinematic imbalances due to suboccipital strain in newborns. Biedermann H. J. Manual Medicine 1992, 6:151-156.

  • More than 600 babies (to date) have been treated for suboccipital strain. One hundred thirty-five infants who were available for follow-up was reviewed in this case series report. The suboccipital strain’s main symptoms include torticollis, fever of unknown origin, loss of appetite and other symptoms of CNS disorders, swelling of one side of the facial soft tissues, asymmetric development of the skull, hips, crying when the mother tried to change the child’s position, and extreme sensitivity of the neck to palpation. Most patients in the series required one to three adjustments before returning to normal. “Removal of suboccipital strain is the fastest and most effective way to treat the symptoms…one session is sufficient in most cases. Manipulation of the occipito-cervical region leads to the disappearance of problems….”

2) The Short-term Effect of Spinal Manipulation in the Treatment of Infantile Colic: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial with a Blinded Observer, Wiberg JMM, Nordsteen J, Nilsson N. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. October 1999; Vol. 22, No. 8, pp. 517-522.

  • This is a randomized controlled trial that took place in a private chiropractic practice and the National Health Service’s health visitor nurses in a suburb of Copenhagen, Denmark. One group of infants received spinal care for 2 weeks, the other was treated with the drug dimethicone for 2 weeks. Changes in daily hours of crying were recorded in a colic diary.
  • From the abstract: By trial days 4 to 7, hours of crying were reduced by 1 hour in the dimethicone groups compared with 2.4 hours in the manipulation group (P = 04). On days 8 through 11, crying was reduced by 1 hour for the dimethicone group, whereas crying in the manipulation group was reduced by 2.7 hours (P=.004). From trial day 5 onward the manipulation group did significantly better that (sic) the dimethicone group. Conclusion: Spinal manipulation is effective in relieving infantile colic

3) Infantile colic and chiropractic. Nilsson N. Eur J Chiro 1985;33 (4) :264-65.

  • In this study (retrospective uncontrolled questionnaire) of 132 infants with colic, 91% of the parents reported an improvement, which occurred after an average of two to three adjustments, and within one week of care.

4) Infantile colic treated by chiropractors: a prospective study of 316 cases. Klougart N, Nilsson N and Jacobsen J (1989) JMPT, 12:281-288.

  • In this study, 73 chiropractors adjusted the spines of 316 infants (median age 5.7 weeks at initial examination) with moderate to severe colic (average 5.2 hours of crying per day). The infant’s mothers were provided a diary and kept track of the baby’s symptoms, intensity and length of the colicky crying as well as how comfortable the infant seemed. 94% of the children within 14 days of chiropractic care (usually three visits) showed a satisfactory response. After four weeks, the improvements were maintained. One fourth of these infants showed great improvement after the very first chiropractic adjustment. The remaining infants all showed improvement within 14 days. Note: 51% of the infants had undergone prior unsuccessful treatment, usually drug therapy.

Case Studies:

1) A six week old baby with colic. International Chiropractic Pediatric Association Newsletter. May/June 1997.

  • Six week baby with colic could not sleep for more than one hour at a time and could not hold food down. C1 subluxation was located and adjusted. After first adjustment infant fell asleep before leaving the office and slept for 8 hours straight. The baby gained two pounds in one week. The child was seen three times per week for two months thereafter once a week. The colic symptoms never returned.

2) Chiropractic management of an infant experiencing breastfeeding difficulties and colic: a case study. Sheader, WE, Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics, Vol. 4, No. 1, 1999.

  • A single case study of a 15 day old emaciated Hispanic male infant experiencing inability to breastfeed and colic since birth, crying constantly, “shaking, screaming, rash, and vomiting during and after feeding.” The baby also had “increased distress” 30 minutes after feeding and had excessive abdominal and bowel gas since birth. The mother reported the infant was given a Hepatitis B vaccination within hours after birth.
  • Examination: during the examination the infant continuously cried, with high-pitched screams, and full-body shaking. Child had a distended abdomen with excessive bowel gas.
  • Chiropractic Adjustment: Adjustment was made to the first cervical vertebra. It was followed by significant reduction of crying, screaming and shaking. The mother commented on the “quietness” of her baby. On the second visit, two days later the mother commented, “This is a completely different baby”. The vomiting before and after feeding had ceased. Another adjustment was given. By the third visit, a “significant decrease of symptoms” was reported and complete remission of abdominal findings. Baby had been successfully breastfeeding since last visit. No adjustment was given. By the fourth visit 3 days later, the baby had been symptom free for 5 days at which time he received another Hepatitis B shot with the return of all symptoms to a severe degree. Adjustment was given but there was no reduction of symptoms. The patient was adjusted three more times over the next week with minimal reduction in symptoms. By the eighth visit, eight days after receiving the vaccination the child began to show marked improvement and by the 11th visit, no symptoms were noticed and no adjustment was given.

3) Dr. Koren comments: the high-pitched screaming the child exhibited is a neurologic cry(cri-encephalique) which is due to irritation of the central nervous system. Children with neurologic damage should not be vaccinated.

4) Colic with projectile vomiting: a case study. Van Loon, Meghan. J of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics. Vol. 3 No. 1 1998. 207-210.

  • From the abstract: The purpose of this case study is to discuss the chiropractic care of a patient who presented to the author’s office with a medial diagnosis of colic with additional projectile vomiting. The proposed etiology, the medial approach to colic, and the chiropractic care for this infant is detailed. Also examined is the connection between birth trauma and non-spinal symptoms.
  • Patient: A three-month-old Caucasian male presenting with medically diagnosed colic. Symptoms had been increasing in severity over the previous two months despite medical intervention.
  • Results: the resolution of all preventing symptoms within a 2-week treatment period is detailed. Care consisted of chiropractic spinal adjustments and craniosacral therapy.
  • Conclusion: This case study details the chiropractic management of a three-month-old male with a medical diagnosis of colic who also exhibited projectile vomiting. Complete resolution of all symptoms was achieved. Proposed cranial and spinal etiologies are discussed as well as the connection between birth trauma and non-spinal symptoms.

5) Chiropractic care of infantile colic: a case study. Killinger LZ and Azad A. J of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics. Vol. 3 No. 1 1998. Pp. 203-206

  • This is the study of an 11-month-old boy with severe, complicated, late onset infantile colic. The infant had been unable to consume solid foods for a period of four months, and suffered from severe constipation. In addition, this subject demonstrated extreme muscular weakness and lack of coordination. The baby was unable to crawl, stand or walk and was greatly unresponsive to his surroundings.
  • [Note: child had been under medical care at the Rochester Medical Clinic, with no improvement in his condition.] Following upper cervical specific chiropractic adjustments for a subluxation of the first cervical vertebrae (atlas) there was immediate improvements in muscle strength, coordination, responsiveness, and ability to consume solid foods without vomiting.

6) Chiropractic management of an infant patient experiencing colic and difficult breastfeeding: a case report. Cuhel JM, Powell M, Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics Vol. 2, No. 2 1997. P. 150-154.

  • A twelve-day-old male was presented for chiropractic examination and treatment by his mother. The mother related difficulty in feeding on the right breast. She also stated that he seemed “fussy” and had been producing excess bowel gas. Palpation and motion studies revealed the occiput having a limited range of motion. The atlas was found to be fixed…with infant showing visible signs of distress on palpation of the right cervical soft tissue structures. A chiropractic adjustment was performed to the atlas: right atlas transverse using infant toggle-recoil technique. The mother breastfed the infant at the office immediately following the adjustment with no problems nursing on the right breast. Over the course of this patient’s care, additional chiropractic adjustments were performed. This course of treatment was met with limited success. This prompted the mother to add that an injection of Depo-Provera (contraceptive injection) had been administered 24 hours after the delivery. The parent was advised that this injection may have been a contributor to the infant’s problem. Acting on this advice the mother did not receive the next injection as scheduled. Nutritional supplementation was utilized, and adjustments were continued. The infant’s pattern of breastfeeding and bowel function normalized.

7) Vertebral subluxation and colic: a case study. Pluhar GR, Schobert PD. J of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation, 1991;7:75-76.

  • From the abstract: A case study of a three-month-old female suffering from colic with resultant sleep interruption and appetite decrease is presented. Child received three adjustments with two weeks between adjustments (T-7 and upper cervical area were areas worked on.) Symptoms of colic were relieved within the above brief period.

8) Chiropractic adjustments and infantile colic: a case study. Hyman CA in Proceedings of the fourth National Conference on Chiropractic and Pediatrics. International Chiropractors Association. Arlington, VA 1994. A case study.

9) The side-effects of the chiropractic adjustment. Arno Burnier, D.C. Chiropractic Pediatrics Vol. 1 No. 4 May 1995.

  • This is a case history of R.S., male, age 15, taken from the records of Dr. Arno Burnier of Yardley, PA. 81 South Main Street, Yardley, PA 19067, 215-493-6589. Dr. Burnier has written his “miracle” cases up, please write up your own and submit them for publication in the journals. Patient: E.L. male age 4 months. Physical condition: Uncontrolled crying and screaming during all waking hours for months. Chiropractic result: Immediate resolution of behavior following the first adjustment on 5/1/ 91. To date 2/10/94 the child is a normal healthy baby. Presenting vertebral subluxation: CO/C1 with occiput posterior on the right. Original adjustment: Right occiput ridge meningeal for 20 seconds, double notch meningeal contact on sacrum for 30 seconds. Structural adjustment of occiput in extension and right rotation.

10) Birth Trauma Results in Colic. Krauss LL, Chiropractic Pediatrics Vol. 2 No. 1, October, 1995

  • From the abstract: The objective of this case study is to document the effects of chiropractic on poor sleeping patterns in an infants through a difficult time in an infant’s life. Many infants do not sleep well at night or nap time, and are then irritable throughout the day. These infants are often diagnosed as colicky. The term colic is a symptom commonly seen in infants under three months of age, characterized by paroxysmal abdominal pain and frantic crying. The mother, often as a reaction, is also irritable, exhausted, and, at times, depression and self doubt set in. Physical and emotional fatigue can make this time unbearable and bonding with child difficult. This is the study of a 9 1/2 month old female child with colic. The child was adjusted C1 on the right side (using an adjusting instrument) T4-T5 was manually adjusted and the sacrum was instrument adjusted. The following day the mother reported that the infant had slept through the night, a consistent 12 hours, and woke up happy and playful.

11) Treatment of infants in the first year of life by chiropractors. Incidents and reasons for seeking treatment. Munck LK, Hoffman H, Nielsen AA. Ugeskr Laeger 1988; 150:1841- 1844.

  • This was a retrospective survey of 162 children cared for by doctors of chiropractic in their first year of life. The conditions seen by DCs were:
  • § Infantile colic 73%
  • § Curvature 8%
  • § Bronchitis 3%
  • § Allergy 2.5%
  • § Sleep disorder 1.8%
  • § Middle ear inflammation 1.8%
  • § Eczema 0.6%

Additional Articles:

1) Chiropractic and Colic. World Federation of Chiropractic – May 1999.

  • A pilot study presented at the World Federation of Chiropractic’s 5th Biennial Congress in Auckland, New Zealand, suggests that chiropractic care is superior to placebo for the treatment of infantile colic. A total of 30 infants, aged 0 to 8 weeks, were included in the trial. Fifteen infants received chiropractic spinal manipulation for two weeks. The remaining subjects received placebo (“sham” non-functional ultrasound). Based on parental reports at 1-month follow-up, the study’s authors found “a statistically significant difference in the response to treatment by the experimental group as opposed to the placebo group.”

2) “Chiropractic Care Conquers Colic” December 1998 issue of Country Living’s Healthy Living, Page 53.

  • An inconsolable newborn finds comfort after six sessions with a chiropractor; Nicholas Roe tells the family story When I Telephoned my doctor to ask if he thought it was safe (to see a chiropractor), he was ambivalent: Chiropractic would neither harm nor help. He told me that if it was colic, it would run its course in three months.” To summarize the article: Following the first adjustment, the child was more reactive and colicky, but mom followed the instructions given her by the DC and the baby calmed right down. “We had five more sessions with Stephen. Each lasted 20 minutes and Lucy (the infant!) really seemed to enjoy them. It completely changed what was fast becoming a nightmare. I would like to recommend to everyone with a colicky infant see a chiropractor. It certainly worked for us.

Chiropractic Care found more Effective than Drug for Colic:

References from Koren Publications’ brochure: Relief from Colic

  • Karofsky, P.S. Infantile colic. J Fam Prac, 1984, 19, pp. 107-116.
  • Colon, A.R. & Dipalma, J.S. Am Fam Phy, 1989, 40(6), pp. 122-124.
  • Mendelsohn, R. How to raise a healthy child…in spite of your doctor. New York: Balantine Books, 1984, p. 65.
  • Wootan, G. & Verney, S. Take charge of your child’s health. New York: Crown Publishers Inc., 1992, p. 208. Ibid. p. 212.
  • Jakobsson, I. Cow’s milk as a cause of infantile colic in breastfed babies. Lancet, 1978, 2, p. 437.
  • Klougart, N., Nilsson, N. & Jacobsen, J. Infantile colic treated by chiropractors: A prospective study of 316 cases. JMPT, 1989,12, pp. 281-288.
  • Nilsson, N. Infantile colic and chiropractic. Eur J Chiro, 1985, 33, pp. 264-265.
  • Pluhar, G.R. & Schobert, P.D. Vertebral subluxation and colic: A case study. J of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation, 1991, 7, pp. 75-76.
  • Biedermann, H. Kinematic imbalances due to suboccipital strain in newborns. J Manual Medicine, 1992, 6, pp. 151-156.
  • Gutman, G. Blocked atlantal nerve syndrome in infants and small children. ICA Review, July 1990, pp. 37-42. (Reprinted from Manuelle Medizin, 1987, 25, pp. 5-10.)
  • Fryman, V. Relations of disturbances of cranio-sacral mechanisms to symptomatology of the newborn. JAOA,1966, 65, p. 1059.
  • Webster, L. Personal communication with author. April 20, 1995