Harvard Report Points to Chiropractic Care for Pain Relief

& The Safety of the Chiropractic Adjustment


Noah Herbert, D.C., CCSP®

William J. Owens DC, DAAMLP


A recent article released by Harvard Health Publications at Harvard Medical School points to chiropractic care as a form of pain relief. There are currently many Americans that seek out chiropractors, but many people don’t realize the wide variety of treatments that a chiropractor can provide for pain relief. The article states “while the mainstay of chiropractic is spinal manipulation, chiropractic care now includes a wide variety of other treatments, including manual or manipulative therapies, postural and exercise education, ergonomic training (how to walk, sit, and stand to limit back strain), nutritional consultation, and even ultrasound and laser therapies. In addition, chiropractors today often work in conjunction with primary care doctors, pain experts, and surgeons to treat patients with pain.”

While this is nothing new for the chiropractic community, it may serve to further educate the public as to the many tools a chiropractor possesses to help patients. While the majority of research on chiropractic has focused on spinal manipulation, or adjustment of the spine, for pain relief, there have been studies done on the effectiveness of chiropractic for treating musculoskeletal pain, headaches, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome and fibromyalgia (Harvard Health Publications). The author goes on to state “a recent review concluded that chiropractic spinal manipulation may be helpful for back pain, migraine, neck pain and whiplash.” It should be pointed out there have been reports of serious complications, including stroke, but this has been shown to be extremely rare and some studies suggest this may not be directly caused by the treatment provided by the chiropractor (Harvard Health Publications).

Spinal manipulation, or adjustment of the spine, is a term used to describe providing a high velocity, low amplitude thrust to the vertebra. Chiropractors use this technique to correct the body’s spinal alignment to relieve pain and improve function and to allow the body to heal itself. Treatment usually takes between 10 to 20 minutes and most patients are scheduled 2-3 times per week initially. Patients generally see improvement of their symptoms in the first two to three weeks (Harvard Health Publications).

Harvard Medical School is now saying what chiropractors have been saying for over 100 years and although their article was based on pain, it does add more evidence to the false rhetoric of chiropractic patients having a greater risk of stroke. In the future, reports from Harvard and other medical academic institutions will embrace the growing body of scientific evidence of the varied maladies that respond to chiropractic care.



  1. Harvard Health Publications. (2015). Chiropractic Care for Pain Relief. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/chiropractic-care-for-pain-relief

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Published in Low Back Problems

Children and Chiropractic Care:

Birth to 18 Years

Conditions cared for and side effects

2012 Report

A report on the scientific literature 



Chiropractic has been successfully caring for children for various conditions for over a millennium. The main issues are what conditions are cared for by chiropractors, what is the reported success rate and what is the incidence of side effects. Over time, research has started to catch up on what individual chiropractors have been realizing in their private practices and this article will outline the current state of literature.

Marchand (2012) reported that an extensive European study was performed revealing that 8.1% of chiropractic practices were children between the ages of 0-18 (this is lower than the 17.1% of pediatric case loads of American Chiropractors.) This was based upon 921 doctors of chiropractic participating and reporting 19,821 pediatric visits, thereby certifying a valid cross-section of patients to conclude results.



The conditions that were reported to be cared for by chiropractors were the following:


  1. Musculoskeletal
    1. Joint pain
    2. Walking/crawling
    3. Neck pain
    4. Mid back pain
    5. Low back pain
  2. Neurological
    1. Headaches
    2. Autism
    3. Balance
    4. Cerebral Palsy
    5. Movement Disorders
    6. ADD/ADHD
    7. Behavioral
    8. Crying/Irritability/Sleep
    9. Developmental
    10. Growing
    11. Cognitive
  3. Gastrointestinal
    1. Colic
    2. Constipation
    3. Digestive
    4. Eating
    5. Drinking
    6. Reflux
    7. Hiatus hernia
    8. Bowel problems
  4. Genitourinary
    1. Menstrual cramps
    2. Bed wetting
  5. Immune
    1. Allergies
    2. Asthma
    3. Food intolerance
    4. Respiratory
    5. Eczema
    6. Skin rashes
    7. Infections
    8. Ear infections
    9. Ear-nose-throat problems
    10. Common cold
    11. Flu

Miller and Benfield (2008) conducted a study of children younger than 3 years old to determine the adverse effects of chiropractic care in that age group, arguably the most susceptible to injury based upon the fragility of that age group. The study was based upon 5,242 chiropractic adjustments and if the results were extrapolated to the wider infant/toddler population that receives chiropractic treatment, the adverse reaction rate is expected to be 1 out of every 1300 chiropractic adjustments. There was less than 1% of patients experiencing negative side effects and all of these adverse reactions to care were mild in nature; transient and required no medical care with serious complications. The typical reaction was transient crying.

The “Practical Application” reported by Miller and Benfield was that chiropractic adjustments were safe for young children and adolescents.

Marchand (2012) also reported the negative side effects of chiropractic care in children to be less then 1% (0.23%,) which is consistent with what Miller and Benfield reported 4 years prior in an independent study. However, Marchand went further to categorize the negative side effects into mild, moderate and severe. A 1 year study of 237,857 pediatric patients, there was a reported 534 mild side effects (0.2%) and on 23 (0.009%)moderate side effects with 0 (zero) reporting any severe side effects.

To render perspective on the safety of chiropractic care and children, Le, Nguyen, Law and Hodding (2006) reported  "The incidence of adverse drug reactions among hospitalized children in the United States has not been well studied. Because clinical trials involving neonates, infants, children, and adolescents are limited, the safety and tolerability of many pharmacologic agents are not well established. Often the pharmacologic actions of drugs in neonates, infants, and children are not similar to those identified for adults; therefore, information obtained from research with adults cannot be applied directly. On the basis of a meta-analysis of 17 prospective studies conducted in the United States and Europe, the incidence of ADRs among hospitalized children was 9.5%, with severe reactions accounting for 12% of the total (pg. 557.)

The above study indicates that side effects need more researched conclusions in many sects of health care, but comparatively speaking, chiropractic is a much safer choice than alternative options.

Over time, research will continue to render more outcome statistics on the efficacy of chiropractic care. However based upon the current statistical conclusions, chiropractic is being utilized to help an array of maladies worldwide in the pediatric population with minimal to no side effects.


  1. Marchand, Aurelie (2012) Chiropractic Care of Children From Birth to Adolescence and Classification of reported Conditions: An Internet Cross-Sectional Survey of 956 European Chiropractors, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 35 (5) 372-380
  2. Miller, J. E., & Benfield, K. (2008). Adverse effects of spinal manipulative therapy in children younger than 3 years: A retrospective study in a chiropractic teaching clinic.Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 31
  3. Studin M. (2010, September). Chiropractic and Children; A Study in Adverse Effects,US Chiropractic Directory. Retrieved fromhttp://uschirodirectory.com/index.php?option=com_flexicontent&view=items&id=261
  4. Le, J., Nguyen, T., Law, A., Hodding, J. (2006) Adverse Drug reactions Among Children Over a 10-Year Period, Pediatrics, 118 (2) 555-562


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