Pediatric Ear Infections & Ear Pain: Chiropractic Can Help

When a small child gets an ear ache, it can be hard on everyone around.  After all, it’s a frustrating situation for an older child or adult, but for a small one?  They don’t always understand what’s happening – they just hurt.  Parents want to ease the pain for the child and get them feeling better.

Prescribing of antibiotics is a commonly used treatment for ear infections; however, it has been shown that excessive use of antibiotics may lead to developing antibiotic resistance1 causing many healthcare professionals to recommend 2-3 days of watchful waiting for certain cases.2  If the child has frequent ear infections, they may have surgery to place tubes in the ears.3  Sometimes these steps are needed.

But what if there was some way of preventing and/or improving ear pain and ear infections that did NOT involve medications or surgery?  What if that treatment was both safe and effective?  There is research that shows that chiropractic care can provide these benefits.

A study4 published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics reviewed the records of 46 children, aged 5-years old and under, who were treated at a private chiropractic practice in a suburb of Minneapolis.  All of the children were treated by the same chiropractor who adjusted them and was especially attentive to their cervical vertebrae and occiput (neck and back of the head).  While the treatment varied somewhat, based on the individual child, a typical treatment plan was three treatments the first week, two treatments the second week and then one treatment for each subsequent week.  Treatment was discontinued as appropriate based on their improvement.   Because this was a retrospective review, improvement was determined in one, or more, of three ways:

1)    Parental decision – the parents reported the child had no fever, ear pain or other symptoms

2)    Treating chiropractor – the child seemed to be asymptomatic to the treating chiropractor

3)    Medical Doctor – the parent stated that the child’s medical doctor had deemed the child’s condition to be improved.

The results were extraordinary.  An overwhelming 93% showed improvement!  A whopping 75% improved within a week to 10 days and 43% improved after only 1 or 2 treatments.  Further review of the records revealed common characteristics of those who recovered the quickest:

  • younger children
  • no previous use of antibiotics
  • first occurrence of ear pain
  • presence of ear pain, but no formal diagnosis of infection

This study shows that utilization of chiropractic care before or in addition to medical care may decrease symptoms of ear infection, thereby speeding recovery as well as reducing the need for antibiotics and surgeries related to ear pain and infection in young children.

Talk to your chiropractor about non-pharmaceutical options to prevent and improve ear pain/infection as well as other common childhood issues.   Good spinal health can help your child grow up strong and healthy.  Chiropractors are trained in special techniques for infants and children which differ than those used to treat adults.5 These techniques are so gentle that many chiropractic physicians report of infants sleeping through an adjustment.  If you don’t currently have a chiropractor, you can find a TCA member doctor near you on



1)    CDC. Antibiotic Use in the United States, 2017: Progress and Opportunities. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2017.

2)    CDC. Antibiotic Prescribing and Use in Doctor’s Offices.

3)    PubMed Health.

4)    Froehle, RM. Ear infection: a retrospective study examining improvement from chiropractic care and analyzing for influencing factors.  Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 1996 Mar-Apr;19(3):169-77.

5)    Siddle, B. Chiropractic Care for Children. Pathways to Family Wellness, Issue #18.


This article is being shared as part of TCA’s
“Realign Your Thinking” public-awareness campaign – 
helping Tennesseans understand what chiropractic care offers
and the positive role it plays in the overall health care system.