Childhood Disorders


Asthma is a chronic lung condition that is characterized by difficulty in breathing. In a person with asthma, the airways narrow, requiring the person to breathe with more effort to move air in and out of the lungs. The narrowing is the result of inflammation of the tissues lining the walls of the airways, spasm of the smooth muscles and secretion of mucous into the airways. There are numerous factors that may cause this. They are not all well understood, and the factors are different for each patient.

An immediate cause of asthma may be over-sensitivity (hyperreactivity) to certain stimuli such as:

  • certain foods
  • cigarette smoke
  • pollen
  • dust mites
  • exercise
  • mould
  • respiratory viral infection

Importantly, at Shirley Rd Chiropractic, we understand that asthma can be life-threatening and most patients should be under concurrent medical care. 

Bed wetting (nocturnal enuresis)

Bed wetting is found in 20% of 4-5 year olds, twice as frequently in males as in females, and produces great distress. The causes are unclear. Explanations include behavioural, biological and psychological reactions, and often there will be more than one cause. There are many medical treatments – including periodic waking, fluid restriction, bell and pad, dry bed training, psychotherapy and hypnotherapy – none supported by strong research.

As with other methods Chiropractors may report successful results in some individual cases. However, once again, there is no strong research to support consistent claims.  The largest study of 171 Australian children aged between 4 and 15 reported only moderate success.5 


Infantile colic is a term used to describe persistent, often violent crying for no apparent reason in otherwise healthy and thriving young infants. Colic begins at 1-4 weeks of age and usually spontaneously ends at 3-4 months of age. The source of pain is unclear but traditionally believed to stem from the lower digestive tract. 

There is currently no controlled, double-blind study assessing chiropractic and colic. There has only been a multicentre study of 316 infants in Denmark back in 1989.7 The children in the study were on average aged 5.7 weeks and to be entered into the study had to have:

  • colic (normal weight gain and health, but persistent crying for at least 5 hours per day)
  • an inability to be comforted by various normal means
  • spinal dysfunction
  • behaviour during colic that included motoric unrest, such as frequent flexing of the knees toward the abdomen and/or backward bending of the head and trunk.

Treatment, given an average of 3 times over 2 weeks, comprised light-force techniques of no more trouble to the infant than basic physical examination. There was a success rate of 94% (colic stopped – 60%, significantly improved – 34%) and the Danish researchers concluded that, with appropriately selected infants, “standard chiropractic treatment constitutes an effective treatment for infantile colic.”

In a follow-up study the same group in Denmark found that chiropractic management is safe and effective.8 At Shirley Rd Chiropractic we advocate co-management of infants who are suffering from colic with the family GP and/or paediatrician. In such cases, a short trial trial of chiropractic management may be undertaken to determine if this method may be effective and if not treatment can be ceased.




  1. Hasselberg, P.D. (1979) Chiropractic in New Zealand. Report of Commission of Inquiry into Chiropractic. Wellington, New Zealand: Government Printer.
  2. Bronfort, G. (1996) Asthma and Chiropractic. Eur. J. Chiro. 44: 1-7.
  3. Hviid, C. (1978) A comparison of the effect of chiropractic treatment on respiratory function in patients with respiratory distress symptoms and patients without. Bull. Eur. Chiro. Union. 26: 17-34.
  4. Balon, J., Aker, P.D., Crowther, E.R. et al. (1998) A comparison of active and simulated chiropractic manipulation as adjunctive treatment for childhood asthma. New England Journal of Medicine. 339: 1013-1020.
  5. LeBoeuf-Yde, C., Brown, P., et al. (1991) J. Manip. Physiol. Ther. 14: 110-115.
  6. Reed, W.R., Beavers, S., Reddy, S.K., Kern, G. (1994) Chiropractic management of primary nocturnal enuresis. J. Manip. Physiol. Ther. 17: 596-600.
  7. Klougart, N., Nillson, N., Jacobsen, J. (1989) Infantile colic treated by chiropractors: a prospective study of 316 cases. J. Manip. Physiol. Ther. 12: 281-288.
  8. Wiberg, J.M.M., Nordsteen, J. and Nilsson, N. (1999) The short-term effect of spinal manipulation in the treatment of infantile colic: a randomised controlled trial with a blinded observer. J. Manip. Physiol. Ther. 22: 517-522.