Seeking Chiropractic Care For Children With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Posted on: 26 June 2015

Although treatment for kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often includes doctors prescribing stimulant medications, parents looking for alternative treatment options sometimes seek chiropractic care for a child. Little scientific evidence exists on the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment for ADHD, yet some parents report that their child's symptoms and behavior improve with treatment. Chiropractic care for ADHD may involve spinal manipulation, exercise therapy, nutrition counseling, and relaxation therapy.

Spinal Manipulation

Some chiropractors believe that making adjustments to the spine addresses an imbalance in brain activity caused by poor muscle tone. Correcting spinal subluxations (misalignments), which can lead to impaired nerve function, may help improve a child's overall physical and emotional well-being. While chiropractic care does not treat ADHD directly, it does treat structural misalignments that can cause nervous system dysfunction, which can affect your child's general health.

Relaxation Therapy

Relaxation therapy that includes deep-breathing exercises and relaxing different muscle groups can help calm a child with ADHD. A chiropractor will teach a child how to perform these and other mind-body relaxation techniques. Learning relaxation skills helps to relax tense muscles and reduce stress, allowing a child to think more clearly.

Similar to meditation, a chiropractor may practice with a child a technique known as the relaxation response. While focusing on breathing, the chiropractor instructs the child to keep repeating the same word or phrase silently to himself or herself for 5 to 10 minutes. The chiropractor also may guide your child in the technique of visualization, taking the child to a safe place in his or her mind by vividly describing all the sights and sounds.

While these techniques are intended to help reduce your child's anxieties, since there are no published studies demonstrating the effects of relaxation therapy on ADHD, more clinical trials are needed.


Exercise as part of chiropractic therapy isn't just about managing pain. Because chemicals the brain releases during exercise can soothe the body and mind, physical exercise can help relax a restless child. The brain also releases the chemical dopamine -- a neurotransmitter related to attention -- during exercise. Lack of attention and impulsive behaviors are symptoms of ADHD; therefore, exercise that stimulates the regions of the brain responsible for attention, focus, and behavior can help improve these symptoms. A chiropractor will assess your child and develop a program of activities and games that reinforce a healthy lifestyle.

Nutritional Counseling

The foods your child eats may help improve his or her ADHD symptoms or make them worse. Although some kids get hyperactive after eating sugary foods, there are no studies suggesting that sugar is a cause of ADHD. However, consuming too much sugar in the diet isn't good for anyone. Foods, such as complex carbohydrates, foods high in protein, and those containing omega-3 fatty acids, are foods your child should eat.

Although the research findings aren't clear, artificial colors and food additives may contribute to hyperactivity in some children and should be eliminated from the child's diet. Since many chiropractors offer nutritional counseling as part of a chiropractic treatment, a chiropractor can help plan a menu of foods and recommend supplements that meet your child's nutritional needs. The American Academy of Pediatrics points out that while no dietary supplements have been proven successful at treating ADHD, a lack of certain nutrients in the diet, particularly those that support brain development, can affect a child's learning and behavior.

For more information, contact Reading Chiropractic or a similar location.