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Functional Constipation

Often I hear people say “Why should I go to a chiropractor, I don’t have any pain?” As we touched on two weeks ago, the goal of chiropractic care is to improve your brain’s connection with your body. Therefore, if you have a brain, chiropractic care can benefit you! Kids are no exception to this. Often children don’t suffer from “back” pain, but they can experience headaches and other ailments the typical person might not think to seek out a chiropractor for. One common condition in kids that can benefit from adjustments is constipation. Characterized as less than three bowel movements a week, constipation is responsible for up to 3% of pediatric hospital visits and around 30% of visits to a pediatric gastroenterologist (1).

There have been numerous case reports written about the increase in bowel movements in kids who are constipated (2,3). When a bowel movement occurs, the body is utilizing a few different muscles. The detrusor muscles of the rectum and puborectalis work together to open the anal sphincters and evacuate feces (4). Often in kids, this is dysfunctional due the lack of relaxation of the sphincters to avoid the pain produced when attempting to defecate (4). This then causes a back up of stool in the colon and drying of feces, furthering the painful cycle for the child.

Although the evidence for resolution of constipation is not as high on hierarchy of evidence compared to some of the other topics we have covered, chiropractic care is worth a try. The traditional medical response to constipation in kids has a high relapse (return of constipation) rate and the prescription of laxatives has not been shown to be more effective than placebo (4). Chiropractic care is less invasive and safe for children, so consider having your child’s spine checked as well as your own the next time you stop in for a visit (5)!


  1. Santucci, N. R., Chogle, A., Leiby, A., Mascarenhas, M., Borlack, R. E., Lee, A., Perez, M., Russell, A., & Yeh, A. M. (2021). Non-pharmacologic approach to pediatric constipation. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 59.

  2. Quist, D. M., & Duray, S. M. (2007). Resolution of symptoms of chronic constipation in an 8-year-old male after chiropractic treatment. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 30(1), 65–68.

  3. Iyer, M. M., Skokos, E., & Piombo, D. (2017). Chiropractic management using multimodal therapies on 2 pediatric patients with constipation. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 16(4), 340–345.

  4. Alcantara, J., Alcantara, J. D., & Alcantara, J. (2014). An integrative review of the literature on the chiropractic care of infants with constipation. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 20(1), 32–36.

  5. Hawk, C., Schneider, M. J., Vallone, S., & Hewitt, E. G. (2016). Best practices for chiropractic care of children: a consensus update. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 39(3), 158–168.

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