The safety and effectiveness of pediatric chiropractic: a survey of chiropractors and parents in a practice-based research network

Explore (NY). 2009 Sep-Oct;5(5):290-5. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2009.06.002.


Background: With continued popularity of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies for children, their safety and effectiveness are of high concern for both CAM and conventional therapy providers. Chiropractic is the most popular form of practitioner-based CAM therapies for children.

Objective: The objective of this study was to describe the practice of pediatric chiropractic, including its safety and effectiveness.

Design: This study used a cross-sectional survey.

Setting: A practice-based research network was used for this study.

Patients/participants: Participants were chiropractors and parents of pediatric patients (aged < or =18 years) attending chiropractic visits ranging from one to 12 visits.

Intervention: This is a survey study. No interventions were rendered in the completion of this study.

Main outcome measures: Demographics, clinical presentations, treatment-associated aggravations, complications and improvements.

Results: The indicated primary reason for chiropractic care of children was "wellness care." With respect to condition-based presentations, musculoskeletal conditions were the most common, in addition to nonmusculoskeletal conditions of childhood. The most common techniques used were diversified technique, Gonstead technique, Thompson technique, and activator methods. Treatment-associated complications were not indicated by the chiropractic and parent responders. Chiropractor responders indicated three adverse events per 5,438 office visits from the treatment of 577 children. The parent responders indicated two adverse events from 1,735 office visits involving the care of 239 children. Both sets of responders indicated a high rate of improvement with respect to the children's presenting complaints, in addition to salutary effects unrelated to the children's initial clinical presentations.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chiropractic / adverse effects
  • Chiropractic / methods
  • Chiropractic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Manipulation, Chiropractic / adverse effects
  • Manipulation, Chiropractic / methods
  • Manipulation, Chiropractic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Parents
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pediatrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Treatment Outcome