Can a Chiropractor Help Silent Reflux?

When you or your baby are struggling with stomach pain or even colic, it can be difficult to feel like you have options. Babies can’t tell you what’s wrong, and often we must guess what will ease their pain. If you’re experiencing silent reflux yourself, you may not even know what’s going on until it feels unbearable and overwhelming. Gastroesophageal reflux is common in infants and is why they often spit up. It’s also common in adults, but symptoms may not appear as traditional reflux symptoms.

Some babies and adults have something called laryngopharyngeal reflux, or silent reflux, which can be more difficult to diagnose. If this sounds like you or your baby, you may be able to find answers with a Charlotte chiropractor.

Silent Reflux in Infants and Adults

All forms of reflux are very common for a variety of reasons. In babies, sphincter muscles are often not formed until about 10 months old, which means food is not always held in the stomach well – and this food is mostly liquid, which makes it easier to struggle with. Many babies are also sensitive to dairy, which is in formula and can travel through breast milk, further irritating the issue.

Another reason this is a common issue is that babies often lie on their backs. Safe sleep guidelines tell us this is the best way for them to sleep to prevent suffocation and SIDS, but a side effect may be more pain from reflux and related conditions.

In adults, silent reflux often presents as digestive issues and nausea. Typically, it will eventually cause the traditional heartburn feeling, but it may be quite intense and feel like it went from zero to one hundred overnight.

In typical acid reflux, the acid from this problem travels back up into the esophagus, causing a baby to spit up or causing adults to have heartburn. In silent reflux, the acid moves to the pharynx, larynx, or voice box. This causes similar pain and issues but does not lead to spitting up or heartburn, which makes it more difficult to identify.

How Chiropractors Can Help Silent Reflux in Infants

You may not immediately think of a chiropractor as being able to help with digestive issues, especially in an infant. But evidence shows that care from a chiropractor like Dr. Grant Lisetor can be beneficial, especially when spinal misalignments contribute to the condition.

For example, one study included 316 infants with colic and reflux-like symptoms, who were randomly assigned to receive either chiropractic adjustments or another form of care. The infants who received adjustments showed fewer reflux symptoms. Another study followed a 3-month-old baby with silent reflux symptoms who seemed to find relief after regular adjustments.

In cases like these, it is often birth injury or trauma that causes the misalignment in babies in the first place. When instruments like a vacuum or forceps are used, it is common for babies to have small misalignments that compound over time and create issues like reflux by creating nerve interference.

In adults, a simple spinal misalignment can cause acid reflux, as the esophageal sphincter muscles can be impacted by nerve interference.

At Greater Life Chiropractic, we often see infants for a variety of reasons related to these misalignments. Whether you suspect your child is suffering from silent reflux or are not sure of the cause of their colicky behavior, we can help. Dr. Grant Lisetor will take care to gently adjust your child while walking you through every step of the process. Schedule your first appointment today to help them find relief!


Alcantara, J., Anderson, R. “Chiropractic care of a pediatric patient with symptoms associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease, fuss-cry-irritability with sleep disorder syndrome and irritable infant syndrome of musculoskeletal origin.” The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 2008 Dec; 52(4): 248–255.

Wiberg, J.M., Nordsteen, J., Nilsson, N. “The short-term effect of spinal manipulation in the treatment of infantile colic: a randomized controlled clinical trial with a blinded observer.” Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics, 1999 Oct; 22 (8): 517-22.