Most treatments for colic are directed at the digestive system: burping, short feeds, tonics, changing the position of the baby and others. Few, even drug-based care, have been shown to be effective.
Chiropractors favour nervous system immaturity rather digestive system immaturity as an explanation of “infant colic”. Chiropractors’ common experience is that when the spine is treated the symptoms of colic can quickly disappear.
For some chiropractic care is a controversial approach to treating colic. They might be horrified to think that forceful manipulations used on adults are used on small delicate babies. Spinal manipulation in babies is very gentle.
To manipulate a baby only very light pressure is needed. Their tissues are very elastic and their nervous systems very responsive. Chiropractors consider these factors and only minimal pressure is applied to the problem areas. Over-manipulation in children occurs rarely and more commonly from habitual self-manipulation.
Importantly the chiropractor will only manipulate the spine if he or she can find areas of problems.
The “Activator” device is springloaded and can deliver a small controlled impact to the spine. This is what is used by most chiropractors to “adjust’ a baby’s spine.
The cause of spinal problems in babies is also unknown. Possible causes are genetic susceptibility, the forces applied during delivery and improper lifting/handling.
The developing and complex nervous system connections in the spine, to the diaphragm and organs may also be a factor. As these systems mature, the digestive problems disappear, or as the signals to the brain are more properly organised the “pain” and crying behaviour disappears.
Tenderness (that is undue reactions to pressure) is one sign of spinal problems. A standardised approach makes it easy to demonstrate consistent reactions, to demonstrate a problem area. These are the areas that are “adjusted” using the Activator instrument.