The Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health published a case study on August 12, 2019, documenting the resolution of chronic constipation in a toddler following the introduction of chiropractic care. Childhood functional constipation is reported to affect between 8-9% of the pediatric population with the condition affecting boys and girls equally. It is responsible for 3% of all pediatric primary care doctor visits.
The Mayo Clinic lists several signs that a child is suffering with constipation. These include: less than three bowel movements a week, bowel movements that are hard and dry and difficult to pass, pain while having a bowel movement, stomach pain, and blood on the surface of hard stools.
The author of the study notes that the main nerve in the body that controls the gastrointestinal system is the “vagus” nerve. This nerve originates in the upper neck area and travels down to many of the internal organs including the intestinal system. Any malfunction in the transmission of the nerve can have a negative effect on the gastrointestinal system, causing problems such as constipation.
In this case, a 3-year-old girl was brought by her parents to the chiropractor. It was reported that the girl had been suffering with chronic constipation for the prior year. During this time, the young girl would only have a bowel movement approximately every three to five days with the help of medication. When she did have a bowel movement, it was usually very large and more solid than normal. The medical physicians who examined the girl could not find a medical cause for the constipation and therefore said it was “functional.”
A chiropractic examination was performed. This included a postural evaluation, spinal range of motion tests, spinal segmental range of motion, and a heat reading thermographic study. From these tests, it was determined that subluxations were present, mainly in the upper neck. Specific forms of age-appropriate adjustments were started.
There were no changes noted after the girl’s first adjustment. However, after the second adjustment, the girl said she needed to go to the bathroom, and she had a bowel movement in the chiropractic office restroom. The girl’s parents noted that this was the first bowel movement she had in months that was not initiated by medication or laxatives. On the third visit one week later, the girl’s mother reported that her daughter was having daily bowel movements without any laxatives or medications. In the following three months, there was only one reported episode of the girl having constipation. This one episode was relieved on the same day after a chiropractic adjustment.
In the study’s discussion and conclusion, the author wrote, “Constipation adversely affects the quality of life of those afflicted with this condition. Any treatment that can fully alleviate constipation, and notably without dependence upon a pharmacological agent which reduces the symptom temporarily, warrants strong consideration. This case report provides supporting evidence on the benefits of chiropractic care in a young patient diagnosed with chronic functional constipation.