A ground-breaking study was published in September 2009, examining the safety and effectiveness of chiropractic care for children. The results of the study showed that most parents took their children to a chiropractor for wellness care. When symptoms were present, musculoskeletal conditions like neck pain and back pain were the most common. Other symptoms included digestive problems, ear/nose/throat problems, neurological problems, and immune system weakness. The study included responses from both chiropractors and parents to identify risks associated with chiropractic care.
The study did not find any evidence of chiropractic-related complications. Chiropractors in the study reported three minor side effects per 5,438 office visits (0.06%) from the treatment of 577 children. The parents in the study reported two minor side effects from 1,735 office visits (0.12%) involving the care of 239 children. All five reported minor side effects were temporary soreness and stiffness of the treated body areas. Both parents and chiropractors noted a high rate of improvement with respect to the children’s symptoms, in addition to healthful effects unrelated to the children’s initial symptoms.
The study authors report that minor side effects (such as muscle stiffness and soreness) have been reported in 30-55% of adults receiving chiropractic care. In contrast, less than one percent of children in this study experienced minor side effects. The forces applied in chiropractic care for children are much less than those applied to adults. Also, the flexibility of the pediatric spine may offer faster response and adaptation to chiropractic care. Adult spines typically must overcome decades’ worth of abnormal patterns of alignment and movement, which makes the healing process more symptomatic.