Otitis Media (Ear Infections) in children

The inner ear structure and the vertebra of the upper neck are very closely related physically, and if there are restrictions in the joints and muscles (and lymphatic system) of the area, it can lead to restriction of the drainage of the eustachian tube (responsible for equalising pressure between the ear and nose and draining mucus away from the middle ear). If the restrictions prevent drainage, pooling of the fluid may occur. Pooling of the fluid may become stagnant and lead to infection. If antibiotics are given, it may help the infection (if it is bacterial but not if it is viral), but without releasing the restriction, pooling of the fluid and resulting stagnation will reoccur. Children with recurrent ear infections who have gone through several rounds of antibiotics will often be referred for grommets as a last resort.

Areas of restriction in the neck can occur from birth (sometimes even before if the baby is restricted or awkwardly situated in the uterus) due to the impact of the skull on the cervix (especially in induced births or traumatic births with vacuum extraction and forceps. Caesarian births are not exempt from trauma as the baby’s head is often engaged or stuck in the pelvis when they go in to take the baby out.

During a Caesarian the baby also lacks the natural moulding of the head and cranial bones as it passes through the birth canal which can not only lead to misshapen heads, but the child actually never goes through a process that nature intends all babies to do. This is going to affect the cranium, spine and nervous system since that’s what the birth canal is moulding.

Below are some basic scientific evidence and anecdotes about chiropractic and otitis media and a link to wikipedia so you can look at the Eustachian tube too. Many parents of children with ear infections who have taken their child to the chiropractor will give you positive stories about their experience. Chiropractors also have many positive stories to tell and the Chiropractic profession is seeking to improve the formal scientific evidence by performing more scientific studies to demonstrate the positive relationship between chiropractic visits and resolving ear infections. By googling “PubMed chiropractic and otitis media” you will see some of the scientific evidence that is already building but stay tuned as science catches up.

The following articles are from this website:


Chiropractic Treatment of Otitis Media with Effusion: A Case Report

Clinical Chiropractic 2004 (Dec);   7 (4):   168–173
The patient was treated 4 times using cervical paediatric adjusting. Activator technique was applied to the thoracic region. Discharge from the ears disappeared immediately after the first visit. An improvement in hearing was identified at a hearing test 3 months after cessation of chiropractic care.

A Feasibility Study of Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation Versus Sham Spinal Manipulation for Chronic Otitis media with Effusion in Children

J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1999 (Jun);   22 (5):   292–298
This study also demonstrated the feasibility of our study treatment procedures. Patient/parent compliance with the treatment protocol was excellent; 10 chiropractic treatment visits over a 4-week period is a feasible and realistic commitment that can be expected of patients and parents. Patients tolerated the treatments well, with only minimal, self-limiting side effects (ie, back soreness). In addition, parents and chiropractors were willing to participate in a study with a placebo or sham treatment group, as long as patients were allowed access to regular medical care and active treatment was offered to those who received the placebo after study completion.

The Role of the Chiropractic Adjustment in the Care and Treatment of 332 Children with Otitis Media

Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics 1997 (Oct);   2 (2):   167–183
To our knowledge this is the first time that tympanography has been used as an objectifying tool with respect to the efficacy of the chiropractic adjustment in the treatment of children with otitis media. The results indicate that there is a strong correlation between the chiropractic adjustment and the resolution of otitis media for the children in this study. This pilot study can now serve as a starting point from which the chiropractic profession can begin to examine its role in the treatment of children with otitis media.

Ear Infection: A Retrospective Study Examining Improvement from Chiropractic Care and Analyzing Influencing Factors

J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1996 (Mar);   19 (3):   169–177
93% of all episodes improved, 73% in 10 days or fewer and 43% with only one or two treatments. Young age, no history of 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. 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.

Vertebral Subluxation and Otitis Media: A Case Study

Chiro: The J of Chiro Res and Clin Inves 1992;   8 (2):   38–40
In this case, a 23-month old female with chronic otitis media who has undergone traditional medical treatment with no relief of symptoms finds sustained improvement with chiropractic care. A mechanism for the etiology of chronic otitis media is suggested.

Otitis Media in Young Children

Chiro: The J of Chiro Res & Clin Invest 1989;   2 (1):   9–13
This explores the current medical literature on otitis media. Utilizing the information gathered from this literature search, a research study is being developed to test the hypothesis that chiropractic adjustments of the cervical region may effect a resolution of acute and chronic otitis media. The authors review anatomy of the ear and current medical treatment of otitis media and propose a hypothesis for future chiropractic clinical research.

Chiropractic Alternative to Otitis Media

Phoenixville Hospital Online
Chiropractors apply extremely light pressure, therefore your child should feel no discomfort during the spinal adjustments, Chiropractic care doesn’t treat earaches, but it often revives the body’s own inborn natural healing ability without drugs or surgery.

Chiropractic for Chronic Ear Infections

Healthy Child Online
Ear pain is the number one reason for child visits to chiropractors. Many chiropractors believe that there is a strong link between the birthing process and recurrent ear infection, also known as otitis media. During the birthing process, cervical (neck) vertebrae can become misaligned, disrupting nerve function, which can affect the eustachian tube. This may lead to fluid buildup in the middle ear and cause otitis media.

Otitis Media

Claudia Anrig, D.C. ~ “Kids Need Chiropractic, Too!”
Otitis media is the leading reason for visitation to the pediatrician’s office. This is probably true for first time visits by frustrated parents to chiropractic offices. From 1975 to 1990, office visits for otitis media have increased by 150 percent to 24.5 million visits, or 81 percent of the pediatric profile for children under the age of 15. The leading age group for OM is children under the age of two.

Otitis Media: “The Miracle Cure”

Peter N. Fysh, D.C. ~ “Kids Need Chiropractic, Too!”
Jenny, age 3-years, presents with chronic recurrent otitis media. The problem has been a difficult one since the first year of her life. Frequent earaches and six trips to the emergency room in just the past five months is straining her parents’ patience, not to mention the effect it is having on young Jenny. Consistent courses of different antibiotics have not been able to arrest the problem, and now tympanostomy tubes are being considered. At the recommendation of some friends, Jenny’s parents bring her to the chiropractor.


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