No parent likes seeing their child in the grip of fevers. Usually, they’re rare, and we spend a sleepless night settling and resettling them. Imagine now that your child has periodic fever syndrome – meaning they suffer from recurrent and unexplained fevers regularly, and that these can be mild or quite severe, even life-threatening. Thankfully, Periodic fever syndrome is rare. It’s thought to be autoimmune in nature and most cases resolve by the second decade of life. Still, for a case presented in the Asia Pacific Chiropractic Journal as part of the ASRF case report project, this meant fevers roughly every two weeks for a three-year-old girl.
At this point in time, the role of complementary and alternative medical intervention for periodic fever syndrome is speculative. We don’t have large studies to suggest best practices apart from pharmaceutical interventions such as steroidal medication to block inflammation. While traditional medical care focuses on managing the fever and attempting to lessen the frequency of the relapses, chiropractors would be wise to ask, “what happens if we can support the nervous system so it can handle inflammation better?”
We have but one tool in our artillery – albeit one we can deploy a million different ways. We adjust subluxations and let the body do what it does best: self-regulate and self-heal.
The present case involves something chiropractors see quite often in practice. A patient presents with one main complaint, often of musculoskeletal origin, and ends up noting significant changes in other areas following subluxation-based care. This patient presented with a clicky wrist. Her parents had initially gotten her checked and adjusted at six weeks of age up until one year, but there had been a two-year lapse in care during which Periodic fever syndrome and “metatarsus adductus” (in-turning foot) had been diagnosed.
A full spinal check was completed, with peripheral joint and nervous system assessments performed as well. Subluxation-based care then commenced, using techniques appropriate for and modified to the age and strength of the child. It should be noted that it was full-spine care, not limited to just extremity adjusting for the wrist. Instead, the chiropractor gave at-home advice as well as adjustments in practice. Subluxations were noted at sphenoid (internal and external) and occipital levels.
Six weeks into the course of care, the mother noted a “coincidence.” She remarked that her daughter hadn’t gotten temperatures while she had been under chiropractic care. This was noted, but no promises or attributions made. Over Christmas, care frequency slowed, and the fevers returned. This “made the mother feel sure that the adjustments were effective at reducing the severity of the patient’s temperatures.” 
At all stages of care, the chiropractor was careful to ensure parents understood that the aims of care were to “assist function by correction subluxations (both spinal and peripheral joints) and to identify any major underlying issues that presented, and manage them accordingly.” This was all done in a gentle, low-force manner.
At the time the case report was done, the patient was on a once-monthly care schedule. While the mother has filled a prescription for medication, she had never had to administer it. Instead of life-interrupting fevers where the child can’t function or attend day care, she is just “slightly more emotional” on the days when a fever would be expected.
While we can speculate about how chiropractic may be feeding into improved adaptability or inflammatory responses, the truth is we need more research to ascertain why this effect may have occurred. What we do know is that the body can do amazing things when we remove interference from the nervous system.
When it does, it doesn’t just make a difference for the child under care. It makes a difference for the whole family. That is what we love to see.
- Ullman, E., Postlethwaite, R., McIvor, C., Resolution of Periodic Fever Syndrome in 3-year-old female: A case report. Asia-Pac Chiropr J. 2022;2.6. URL net/papers-issue-2-6/#UllmanPeriodicFever