Objective: The aims of this study were to determine (a) if the patients improved while under chiropractic care; (b) how many treatments were needed to reach improvement; and (c) which factors were associated with early improvement.
Design: Cohort, nonrandomized retrospective study.
Setting: Private chiropractic practice in a Minneapolis suburb.
Participants: Forty-six children aged 5 yr and under.
Intervention: All treatments were done by a single chiropractor, who adjusted the subluxations found and paid particular attention to the cervical vertebrae and occiput. Sacral Occipital Technique-style pelvic blocking and the doctor's own modified applied kinesiology were also used. Typical treatment regimen was three treatments per week for 1 wk, then two treatments per week for 1 wk, then one treatment per week. However, treatment regimen was terminated when there was improvement.
Outcome measure: Improvement was based on parental decision (they stated that the child had no fever, no signs of ear pain, and was totally asymptomatic), and/or the child seemed to be asymptomatic to the treating DC and/or the parent stated that the child's MD judged the child to be improved. A data abstraction form was used to determine number of treatments used and presence of factors possibly associated with early improvement.
Results: 93% of all episodes improved, 75% in 10 days or fewer and 43% with only one or two treatments. Young age, no history on antibiotic use, initial episode (vs. recurrent) and designation of an episode as discomfort rather than ear infection were factors associated with improvement with the fewest treatments.
Conclusion: Although there were several limitations to this study (mostly because of its retrospection but also, significantly, because very little data was found regarding the natural course of ear infections), this study's data indicate that limitation of medical intervention and the addition of chiropractic care may decrease the symptoms of ear infection in young children.