Osteopathy is a calm and gentle approach to treating children, infants and newborns. Our gentle techniques are slow and soothing allowing for normalization of homeostasis within the body’s systems to occur.
As osteopaths, our treatment revolves around the principle that your child is a whole person and will be cared for with a holistic approach encompassing the entire body.
All osteopathic treatments involve gentle manual techniques that aim to balance the normal homeostasis between all of the systems of the body (ie muscles, joints, ligaments, connective tissues, lymphatic, nerves, circulatory etc). This holistic approach will also allow for positive changes to filter through influencing the body, and tissues of your child.
At the commencement of each treatment, we take a very detailed history of your child’s presenting complaint and previous health history. This is where you get to tell us everything about your child’s health, activities, routines or any concerns. We also examine your child using our finely tuned palpatory skills to determine the areas of discomfort and dysfunction.
We have the ability to perform any necessary medical tests as indicated in your child’s history, such as examination of the ears, eyes, respiratory and nervous systems. The combination of these skills determines if osteopathic treatment is appropriate for your child or if a referral for further medical attention is required.
Osteopathy is suitable for many childhood conditions and complaints such as:
- Bed wetting
- Problems breastfeeding
- Disturbed sleep
- Constipation/ diarrhea
- Musculoskeletal complaints (ie muscle stains or joint sprains)
- Head aches
Birth is one of the most stressful events of our lives. The baby is subjected to enormous forces, as the uterus pushes to expel the baby against the natural resistance of the birth canal. During the process of delivery, the bones of the baby’s cranial vault “fold up” upon each other like the petals of a rose-bud. After delivery, the normal processes of crying, respiration and suckling will resolve many of the stresses and strains absorbed by the tissues. However this is not always the case, especially for babies that are premature, who may further suffer from stress from the equipment that needs to stabilise their condition.
Common infant problems, Osteopaths are faced with
A complicated delivery leaves the infant with uncomfortable stresses within its head and body. These stresses can lead to problems such as suckling, irritability, colic, wind, trouble breastfeeding and disturbed sleep patterns. Osteopathic treatment can bring about significant improvement in these cases, and has particular success in treating the problems suffered by premature babies.
Some mums may have required an epidural anaesthesia. These difficult cases where it may have been necessary to use forceps, osteopathic treatment can counteract the traumatism inflicted upon the baby.
Your baby may be feeling uncomfortable if he/she has a constant feeling of pressure in his/her head from retained moulding and compression, causing him/her to cry a lot. Craniosacral technique can help rid these strains and stresses.
The hypoglossal nerve, supplying the tongue, may be affected as it exits the skull, making sucking difficult. It is known that those born between 32 and 36 weeks have an immature sucking pattern initially. The Osteopath decompresses all the sutures with the little and ring fingers guiding the occipital to its correct position while the index fingers lift the frontals areas.
A complicated delivery can cause the cranium to be squeezed, making the base of the skull susceptible and compression of the nerves passing through it. The vagus nerve supplies most of the thoracic and abdominal organs. This nerve may be irritated with associated tissue strain patterns in the cranial base areas. Another reason why colic is so common is due to the fact that the nervous system is underdeveloped; therefore gut motility and function are impaired.
The classic symptoms of colic usually arise between the second and fourth weeks of life. This period of time coincides with initial development of voluntary control of the neck muscles, as infants of this age are able to lift their heads if placed prone. Interestingly it’s these muscles which attach to the areas of the cranium, to commonly have mechanical strain in infant’s with colic.
Another example of what can cause colic is if the umbilical cord was coiled around your baby’s neck. If so, this traction produces a twisting strain in the area of the baby’s diaphragm, causing colic. Therefore to treat colic, the Osteopath will treat in many places, including areas surrounding the cranial base and tail bone of the spine. Gentle soft tissue massage to the neck muscles in conjunction with gentle palpation to the viscera of the abdomen is often used. Slow and gentle techniques over the stomach and gentle palpation of tender points around the abdomen can also be carried out.
What is Craniosacral technique?
Craniosacral osteopathy is a gentle, safe, non-invasive, yet effective type of treatment that is helpful for not only adults, but also children and infants. It encourages the relief of stresses and tensions throughout the body, including the head, by it’s intrinsic ability of the body to heal itself and self-regulate.
The craniosacral system consists of membranes and fluid that surround the brain and spinal cord. It extends from the cranium to the sacrum. The fluid within the membranes is continually draining and refilling. The filling and draining creates gentle, rhythmic, expanding and contracting movements that can be felt anywhere in the body. Cranial osteopaths are trained to feel a very subtle, rhythmical shape change that is present in all body tissues, called the “cranial rhythm movement.”
Infants respond to Osteopathic care promptly, however it may take few visits to sort out the patient’s problems, particularly those involving the cranium. You will also be informed that depending on the problem, it may take many Osteopathic treatments, therefore prognosis can be difficult.