‘Infantile Colic’

So much has been written about ‘infantile colic’ recently and there are so many so-called ‘cures’ available that it must be totally bewildering for parents of newborns that are crying persistently or distressed.

In our practice, with the help of a referring GP and the practice Health Visitors we have discussed the syndrome at length and have come up with the following definition. This is nothing new, and I feel churlish having to redirect you to our legal page at this point, but we thought it might just help disspell some of the myths out there surrounding colic.

‘Colic’ in infants (<6 months old) could be described as a collection of simple symptoms, (such as abdominal discomfort, increased hiccups, difficulty winding and flatulence) which is possibly caused by something as simple as a hypertonic thoracic diaphragm. In the absence of pathology and with medically qualified clinical leadership, simple musculoskeletal, short-term management of the hypertonic diaphragm using inhibition and a suitable feeding/winding/exercise regime might resolve the condition, although for this there is no evidence whatsoever. There is no evidence to suggest that ‘Colic’ is caused by a disruption of any form of neurovascular tissue, subluxation, lesion or allergy.

Hardly groundbreaking stuff. However, it’s a starting point and hopefully will promote discussion as we are really interested in people’s opinions. It would be very nice to hear from parents that have been through the ‘I have a collicky baby and I’m at the end of my tether’ as well as health professionals that either agree, disagree or something politely in between.

We are particularly interested in what evidence there is out there that people are using to base anything other than musculoskeletal treatment on. I’m not trying to offend – I just think that an enlightening debate is needed and this might help parents decide what is likely to help or not.

7 thoughts on “‘Infantile Colic’

  1. it’s great to see someone who works in the field finally taking a look at the evidence base for these practices, i hope to see thoughtful comments from other osteopaths / chiropractors soon, and will spread the word so that more of them are aware of this forum for debate.

    • A belated thank you, Ben for your comment. The original blog that this was posted on has been buried for the last 18 months so I am digging it up in the hope that I will get some proper debate started.

  2. Also this column in the Guardian by Oliver James is quite interesting re: colic. As a peer supporter for breastfeeding women, I’ve often seen these simple changes in feeding make a difference to babies described as ‘colicky’.


  3. Being a new dad and osteopath. I am also interested in the evidence. As far as I am aware there is one rather weak study from the ESO which shows some benefit from cranial ttt but is very underpowered and methodologically weak. Personally being on the receiving end of a whingy baby I can see why parents will try anything. I remain agnostic about crainial there seems to be vast amounts of anecdotal evidence for it but little else…

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