Infantile colic is a distressing condition, painful to the neonate and stressful to the parents. It is characterized by inconsolable paroxysms of crying, persistent for what seems like endless hours, often after feedings or at similar times of the day, and most often experienced in the evening or early night hours.
The infant will often draw in its knees upward into a presentation of torso flexion, or at other times arch backwards with stiffening and rigidity of the legs. The infant may experience flatulence (passing gas) and the abdomen may be distended and tense. Paradoxically, the infant feeds well and gains weight easily and steadily.
Since colic is not a true diagnosis, rather a descriptive label of a collection of symptoms and clinical signs, it is often difficult to distinguish between a fussy baby, a ‘pre-colicky’ baby, and true colic. Along with comprehensive chiropractic examination, maternal nutrition should be discussed, breastfeeding ‘aptitude’, environmental factors, protein or carbohydrate intolerance, and propensity for allergies. It is important to rule out thrush, where the baby fusses at the breast in an extremely agitated fashion and related breastfeeding issues.
The chiropractic spinal subluxation pattern in evidence is most often at C0 -C1-C2 and T4 – T6. Adjusting these areas will often help. Orthopedic and neurological examinations are usually unremarkable.
Support protocol for parents at home:
1. Use a comfort hold that applies pressure against the babies abdomen (lying face-down across your lap or on a hot water bottle wrapped in a cloth, or in a football hold lying on your forearm)
2. Let the baby suck for comfort on the breast, pacifier or finger.
3. Walking and rocking the infant
4. Swaddling the baby, holding them close
5. Review maternal nutrition – eliminate all dairy immediately for minimum 6 weeks, broccoli, cabbage, onions, garlic, lettuce, cauliflower, caffeine and alcohol
6. Use reflexology points for circular massage on the fat pads under the bog toes of the baby
7. Employ circular massage with your thumb over the baby’s sacrum and/or abdomen
The colicky period is very stressful for parents and families. It may seem impossible to maintain a calm atmosphere and some parents feel at their ‘wit’s end,’ leaving concern for potential infant abuse. It is that difficult on them.
Parents need to be reassured that colic does not produce any harmful, long lasting effects and usually disappears by the 4th-6th month, unless chiropractic care is used, in which case it resolves earlier.
A physician referral is appropriate if the constant, inconsolable crying is associated with vomiting, a cold, a fever or hard stools.