Otitis media and spinal manipulative therapy: a literature review

J Chiropr Med. 2012 Sep;11(3):160-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jcm.2012.05.006.


Objective: Otitis media (OM) is one of the common conditions for doctor visits in the pediatric population. Spinal manipulation therapy (SMT) may be a potential conservative treatment of OM. The purpose of this study is to review the literature for OM in children, outlining the diagnosis of OM, SMT description, and adverse event notation.

Methods: Databases (PubMed, Cochrane Library, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health, Index to Chiropractic Literature, The Allied and Complementary Medicine, and Alt Health Watch) were queried and hand searches were performed to identify relevant articles. All potential studies were independently screened for inclusion by both authors. The inclusion criteria were as follows: written in the English language, addressed OM, involved human participants 6 years or younger, and addressed SMT. Studies were evaluated for overall quality using standardized checklists performed independently by both authors.

Results: Forty-nine articles were reviewed: 17 commentaries, 15 case reports, 5 case series, 8 reviews, and 4 clinical trials. Magnitude of effect was lower in higher-quality articles. No serious adverse events were found; minor transient adverse effects were noted in 1 case series article and 2 of the clinical trials.

Conclusions: From the studies found in this report, there was limited quality evidence for the use of SMT for children with OM. There are currently no evidence to support or refute using SMT for OM and no evidence to suggest that SMT produces serious adverse effects for children with OM. It is possible that some children with OM may benefit from SMT or SMT combined with other therapies. More rigorous studies are needed to provide evidence and a clearer picture for both practitioner and patients.

Keywords: Children; Chiropractic; Manipulation, spinal; Otitis media; Pediatrics.