In their November 2018 issue, the Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics (JCCP) published a case study and review of literature following the case of a child who was suffering with functional constipation being helped by chiropractic. Functional constipation is when there is no underlying pathological condition causing the constipation.
Approximately 95% of all cases of constipation do not have an organic cause and are therefore considered functional constipation. It is estimated that 3% of children in the western world suffer from functional constipation. Medical care usually consists of lifestyle recommendations concerning food, and the giving of laxative medications.
Studies prior to this one reported that that 36.4% of children with functional constipation were taken by their parents for alternatives therapies such as acupuncture, homeopathy, osteopathic and chiropractic manipulations, as well as spiritual and psychological therapies.
Beyond just the physical problems from constipation, the long-term effect on a young child can be significant. Suffering with constipation for a long period can put a child at risk of missing developmental milestones, as well as suffering emotional and physical disturbances that can have severe consequences later in childhood and into adult life.
In this case, a 21-month-old girl was brought to the chiropractor by her mother. The girl had been suffering with episodes of constipation for the past 15 months. The problem started when the child started to eat solid foods at about the age of 6 months. The girl would only experience a bowel movement every 5 or 6 days. The girl would strain when going to the bathroom and would occasionally cry out in pain when passing a stool. Rarely, due to the hardness of the stool, the child experienced bleeding from her rectum.
The girl’s parents tried to help their daughter through natural and healthy foods and increased fluid intake. However, eventually, they took their girl to an pediatrician who prescribed laxatives. The laxatives seemed to give some relief, but the problem would immediately return when her parents attempted to take their daughter off the drugs.
A chiropractic examination was performed which included a visual inspection, both static and motion palpation, and spinal ranges of motion. From the examination, it was determined that multiple levels of subluxations were present. Specific spinal adjustments, appropriate for the girl’s age and size, were started to address the subluxations.
After the girl’s first adjustment, it was reported that she started having regular bowel movement either daily, or every other day. The girl’s mother immediately discontinued giving her daughter the laxative medication, as it was no longer needed. After five months of continued wellness chiropractic and without the aid of laxative medication, the girl had not had any issues with constipation.
In reviewing the available scientific literature concerning the medical treatment of functional constipation in pediatric patients, the authors concluded, “The effectiveness of laxatives is not showed in placebo-controlled trials and does not warrant the widely accepted usage. We observe that there are side effects in using laxatives for children.” They continued, “Chiropractic experience-based practice showed positive results in functional constipation. Children and infants with constipation as with other conditions should be treated regarding all aspects of their health.”