This week I have had two inquires about the efficacy or use of chiropractic care to help with bedwetting. Of course as a chiropractor: I treat joint dysfunction. End of story. BUT when we remove inflammation and irritation from the nervous system peoples body's begin to function better: the use of chiropractic to help with symptoms of bedwetting is an example of this. Historically people have sought out chiropractors to address bedwetting because it is one of those symptoms that has been known to resolve after starting care. But, I did a quick look at the research to see where we're at.
I found several studies that pretty much just said, yup, adolescent bedwetting is a thing and it's probably underreported. (1,2) These studies also pointed out that sometimes it is more common as a child gets older if they had some sort of irregular bowel/bladder function when they were really young like infrequent urination, or intense urge, or there was a trauma. At first impression to me that says, yes there is a nerve that isn't functioning at 100%. That person's body has always had trouble communicating with the organs of elimination; maybe birth trauma that caused joint dysfunction around the lumbar spine or sacrum that was never resolved, or maybe just from being a baby and falling down while learning to walk created enough joint dysfunction that the spine is unable to move normally and it's affecting the nerves that leave the spine at that level in some way.
When I looked at studies specifically looking at chiropractic care and the resolution of bedwetting I found two studies that reported similar results: after starting treatment patients had about a 50% reduction in nights of bedwetting, and 25% of patients in the studies were considered "a success" or "resolved" (3,4). Both of those were higher quality studies published in a good journal of physical medicine. I think that's pretty cool that both studies showed about the same thing. I found many well written and structured case studies ( a study of one patient done by one doctor) that were cases of complete recovery from bed wetting even after just one treatment.
It seems to me that this research supports that yes, some percentage of kids struggling with this problem are having a biomechanical (from the body and they body's function) reason for their symptoms. Not all of them clearly or the "success" rate would have been higher. But for those that have the nervous system irritation associated with a spine that cannot articulate and move as it needs too, their symptoms resolved right away! Remember, a childs' nervous system is SO FAST and adaptable; they could have been compensating for this irritation for a long time before their body said 'that's it. no more' and the bedwetting symptoms show up. Both of my patients who have this periodic, unpredictable problem are young ladies at the age where sleepovers are starting to be fun-- if we could decrease their wet nights, or help in any way I think that's a good idea!
If the child does not have a change with care, continuing down treatment paths would likely include a medication after ruling out problems in the urinary system. That's ok too. But if we can intervene before a medication, that's good too!
Stories, projects, and ideas from office to farm. Be well! Dr. J