Asthma is a highly common and potentially fatal condition affecting almost 5 million under the age of 18. Asthmatics usually experience wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath, although, the frequency and severity of attacks varies greatly from sufferer to sufferer. Asthma involves a combination of factors including:

  • spasm of airway muscles
  • edema of airway mucosa
  • increased mucus secretion
  • injury to airway surface

Chiropractic care has been shown to provide some benefits in asthma sufferers. In one study, 31 adults taking asthma medication were given either “sham” chiropractic spinal adjustments or “real” chiropractic spinal adjustments for a period of 4 weeks. Although there were no changes in measured lung functions, sufferers experienced a 34% reduction in their subjective asthma complaints. Further studies are needed to determine the extent of benefits, however, most chiropractors find many of their asthma patients obtain extraordinary results while under regular chiropractic care.

  1. Neilsen NH, Bronfort G, Bendix T, Madsen F, Weeke B. Chronic asthma and chiropractic spinal manipulation: a randomized clinical trial. Clin Exp Allergy 1995;25:80-88.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is a common disorder in mostly young male children and is characterized by developmentally inappropriate inattention, restlessness, and impulsivity – with or without hyperactivity. Many children are inadvertently diagnosed as having ADHD simply because of hyperactivity and are unnecessarily placed on Ritalin (methylphenidate) as a means of controlling the child. Unfortunately, Ritalin is associated with many common side effects including:

  • sleep disturbances
  • depression and sadness
  • headache
  • stomachache
  • appetite suppression
  • elevated blood pressure
  • reduction of growth

The cause of ADHD is unknown to date but a group of chiropractic researchers has hypothesized that this condition may be caused by or worsened by vertebral fixations and misalignments (subluxations) which result in autonomic nervous system hyperactivity. The researchers performed a small scale study and found chiropractic treatment beneficial in children with hyperactivity disorders.

  1. The Merck Manual. 16th ed. 1992.
  2. Giesen JM, Center DB, Leach RA. An evaluation of chiropractic manipulation as a treatment of hyperactivity in children. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1989;12:353-363.

Back Pain

In a recent study, 1178 school children were surveyed and back pain was found to be cumulatively prevalent in more than 50%. Adolescents who participate in sports experience a higher incidence of back problems due to the excessive spinal loading which accompanies most sports. Similar to adults, chiropractors obtain excellent results treating back pain in children and adolescents. Chiropractic care in children and adolescents is safe, effective, and focuses on treating the cause of their discomfort rather than masking symptoms. Many of our most satisfied patients are children and adolescents.

  1. Troussier B, Davoine P, deGaudemaris R, Fauconnier J, Phelip X. Back pain in school children: a study among 1178 pupils. Scan J Rehabil Med 1994;26:143-146.


Headaches are a common problem in children and adolescents. A study published in the journal Headache reported that the prevalence of headaches in schoolchildren aged 7 was over 50% (for headaches occurring in the preceding 6 months). Chiropractic spinal adjustments have been compared for effectiveness in treating headaches with the commonly prescribed drug, amitriptyline. The results of the study identified chiropractic adjustments as providing long term reductions in headache intensity and frequency, as well as lowering the need to take over-the-counter medications to treat headache symptoms. Additionally, 82% of those taking amitriptyline reported side effects versus only 4% in the chiropractic group.

  1. Boline PD, Kassak K, Bronfort G, Nelson C, Anderson AV. Spinal manipulation vs. amitriptyline for the treatment of chronic tension-type headaches: a randomized clinical trial. J Manipulative Ther 1995;18:148-154.

Heel Pain

Heel pain in a child is commonly caused by a condition known as, “Severs Disease.” It’s caused by chronic strain at the achilles tendon attachment on the calcaneus. It is generally found in 8-13 year olds and the complaint is pain in the area of the heel. Chiropractic care focuses on correcting any biomechanical problems, utilizing therapeutic stretches and exercises, manipulating any “locked” extremity and spinal joints, and various manual therapies.

Infantile Colic

Infantile colic is a common and frustrating condition affecting infants. It involves persistent and often violent crying for no obvious reason. There is also a considerable amount of flatulence present. Typically, it occurs within the 1st month postpartum and spontaneously self-resolves by the 3rd to 4th month. Results from a Danish study involving 316 infants indicate that chiropractic care was successful in treating infantile colic in 94% of the infants.

  1. Klougart, Nilsson N, Jacobsen. Infantile colic treated by chiropractors: a prospective study of 316 cases. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1989;12:281-288.

Knee Pain

Two conditions commonly cause knee pain in children and adolescents, “Osgood-Schlatter Disease” and “Chondromalacia Patella”.

In Osgood-Schlatter Disease, the affected age is from 9-15 years and pain, tenderness and swelling is experienced just below the knee. This is actually the patellar (knee cap) tendon pulling away from it’s bony attachment on the tibia. Chiropractors can effectively treat this condition through manual therapies including therapeutic quadriceps stretching and exercises. There is also an Osgood-Schlatter support which helps minimize stress on the tendinous insertion.

Chondromalacia patella is common in adolescent females and young adults. In this condition, the underside of the patella (knee cap) begins to roughen and become painful. There is generally deep knee pain which is made worse by climbing or descending stairs as well as sitting with the knee flexed for extended periods of time. This condition can worsen and it should receive corrective care which focuses on correcting any biomechanical faults and stresses present in the spine, hip, knee and foot.

Otitis Media

Otitis media is an infection of the middle ear, usually secondary to an upper respiratory infection (URI). It can occur at any age but is most prevalent during the ages of 3 months to 3 years. The most common symptom is severe, persistent earache. Additional signs and symptoms include fever (up to 105-F), nausea, vomiting and diarrhea – especially in young children. Symptoms of headache, sudden profound hearing loss, dizziness, chills and fever can indicate serious complications and should receive immediate evaluation. While the medical approach to otitis media consists of antibiotics, many antibiotics are becoming increasingly ineffective. Furthermore, studies have shown children given antibiotics to treat otitis media increase their odds of having recurrent infections.

Published case studies involving chiropractic treatment of otitis media in children has shown substantial benefits. In one such study, 5 children (5 years and younger) who were under regular pediatric care and who had otitis media for 6 months without resolution were given chiropractic treatment. Chiropractic treatment consisted of gentle cervical spinal adjustments and lymphatic massage. Otitis media resolved in all 5 children – 3 days, 4 days, 8 days, 3 weeks, and 8 weeks. Resolution was determined by otoscopic examination and reduction of fever. None of the children required more than 5 chiropractic treatments in order to achieve resolution.

Fixations and misalignments in the cervical region can cause muscular spasms as well as neurological compromise which are thought to prevent proper drainage of the middle ear. When the middle ear is unable to drain, bacteria can pool and multiply resulting in acute and chronic middle ear infections. By treating the cervical spine and assisting in middle ear drainage, a majority of otitis media cases can be safely and quickly treated.

  1. The Merck Manual. 16th ed. 1992.
  2. Fysh PN. Chronic Recurrent Otitis Media: Case Series of Five Patients with Recommendations for Case Management. J Clin Chiro Ped 1996;2:66-78.


Scheuermann’s Disease

Scheuermann’s disease is a condition which causes persistent low-grade back pain, accentuated thoracic kyphosis (increase in mid back prominence), and a “rounded shoulder” posture. It is most common in the adolescent male. In this condition, there is injury to the surfaces of the vertebrae resulting in a number of wedge shaped thoracic vertebrae. Regular chiropractic care can help reduce symptoms of pain and discomfort as well as optimize spinal biomechanics and stresses. This is important as this condition predisposes the individual to the development of osteoarthritis later in life.


This term is applied to a spinal vertebrae which has slipped forward relative to other vertebrae. It almost always is located in the lower back (4th or more commonly 5th lumbar vertebrae). While this condition is usually asymptomatic in children, identification of the “spondy” is important so that the child can avoid sports that cause axial loading on the spine (i.e. weight lifting, football, etc.) so that the slippage does not progress during periods of rapid adolescent skeletal growth. This condition can be identified through the use of x-rays which reveal presence and extent of slippage.