Bed Wetting and Chiropractic

Bed wetting is a common problem for millions of children and pre-teens around the world. Clinically known as nocturnal enuresis, bed wetting can be as embarrassing as it is annoying. People try all sorts of methods to try to eliminate the problem. And yet there may be an easier way to cure it than you might think. One new therapy involves children visiting a chiropractor for spinal manipulations.

Why Do Kids Wet the Bed? 

Here's what happens to the body during sleep: While sleeping, breathing slows down until the body's carbon dioxide levels rise high enough to trigger a sudden shudder. This shudder is the phrenic reflex, which is also a spinal reflex. Then one takes a nice deep breath, and then starts breathing normally again. If the phrenic reflex is not functioning properly, however, instead of triggering a shudder, high carbon dioxide levels in the body will cause the smooth muscles to relax. These involuntary muscles include the valve at the end of the urinary bladder. In this case, any fluid in the bladder is released, and the bed is wet.

How Can Chiropractors Help? Does It Really Work? 

If the phrenic reflex is simply underdeveloped or not yet matured, time may be the only help. Yet often the reflex is fully developed, it is just obstructed by a vertebral misalignment known as subluxation. This out-of-place vertebrae puts pressure on the spine and keeps it from correctly reacting to the normal sleeping processes. Emptying of the urinary bladder is controlled by the nerve supply to the following levels of the spine: L2, S2 to S4. The sacrum (or tailbone) develops as five separate segments. These segments remain separated until a child reaches puberty.  Eventually the sacrum will be one single bone due to fusion of one sacral segment to another, which doesn’t occur until the mid-20s. Because the sacrum consists of separate segments during the early years of life, it is possible that misalignment of these segments can cause nerve irritation, especially to the area of the bladder, may be the cause of the inappropriate bladder function associated with bed-wetting. During this period, the sacrum can be subjected to repeated trauma from childhood falls and the early attempts at walking. This early trauma to the sacrum may be the major reason why bed-wetting in some patients ceases after the spine is adjusted.

Chiropractic care can help determine whether or not your child has a misalignment, and potentially help your child conquer bed-wetting for good by manipulating the spine back into the proper position.

There have been several studies conducted on this connection. One study, published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, examined 171 children who typically wet the bed every single night. Each child was given some chiropractic care to realign any problems in the spine.  After the treatment, the average "wet" nights for the entire group shrank from seven to four. And 25 percent of the participants displayed a 50 percent reduction in bed-wetting nights. Another 15 percent were basically cured of their problem after the treatment, being considered "dry" with no nightly accidents. So while several visits to the chiropractor may not totally solve the problem, they can lessen the nightly leaking. Many children see marked improvement after just one or two treatments, but for others the results may be more noticeable after several weeks or months of adjustments.

Don’t despair if a pediatrician can’t help you solve your child's bed-wetting problem; you can turn to chiropractic care to solve this sensitive problem and get some much needed relief.