People do not immediately think of children as needing osteopathic treatment, but osteopathy can benefit children at all stages of their development.
From early infancy there is much that can and should be done by an osteopath to promote and maintain health throughout development. A study of 125 early infants found that 85% had some degree of abnormality in the bones of the skull, whether the birth was normal or not.
The bones in the skull compress and overlap during childbirth allowing it to fit through the birth canal. This process, while necessary, can lead to problems later. The skull is easily traumatized at this time and complications such as a venous, forceps, breech birth (positional problems), caesarean, big babies with smaller mothers and prolonged or speedy deliveries can all lead to health issues.
Babies all over the world are now being checked by osteopaths at birth and quickly after, helping counteract any of these issues and promote maximum possible physical, intellectual and emotional health.
Osteopaths help from the earliest days, and by using gentle cranial techniques (see Technique section), any birth (or subsequent trauma can be greatly reduced. Many symptoms will not present until later in life, but prevention is better than cure.
Cranial osteopathic techniques are applied not only to the head but throughout the body and help to release a variety of problems, such as colic, reflux, difficulty with defecation, urinary infections, disturbed sleep patterns and ear problems.
Symptoms that can be helped vary from unsettled, irritable babies, difficulty in settling, unexplained crying, recurrent infections, poor muscle tone (such as floppy baby) and breathing problems.
There is a lot of research completed and underway in this very important area
During the journey from infant to adult, children experience a huge number of changes and are generally very resilient. Toddlers appear to be able to withstand some severe falls and everyone can remember watching a toddler tripping as they learned to walk, thinking how much that must have hurt. After they learn to walk there is running, bicycles, skateboards, skis, snowboards then bungee jumps and the inevitable crashing of a parent’s car.
These are part of a full and fun life and it is impossible to stop children learning by themselves. While it is not necessary to go to an osteopath for every trip and bruise that happens, it is important to maintain regular check-ups to allow the body to compensate for all the growing and falling that they do. The less restrictions in the body, the more they can cope with any accident or trauma.
If a child is complaining of a persistent or recurring pain, it is necessary to seek osteopathic advice and treatment.
Osteopathy is also of great value for the treatment of more serious medical conditions in children, either on its own or in conjunction with general practitioners or specialists. The treatment of asthma, hay fever, coughs, and recurrent respiratory, bladder, sinus, ear, eye or bowel conditions are commonplace and successful.
More severe conditions, such as learning difficulties, autism, developmental disorders and cerebral palsy, react very well to osteopathic treatment. A study of 203 school children in the USA showed a definite relationship between behavioral problems and learning difficulties and restrictions in the skull. The more normal the physical form, the more normal the function will be.
That is not to say that every problem a child has is caused only by physical conditions, there are always many factors to anything. There is, however, a huge role played by the physical, and treatment of the body can help towards a resolution of most conditions. At Integrative Osteopathic Medicine Clinic, We work closely with many disciplines of medicine and often refer to help speedy recovery from the whole condition and all its factors.
The enormous changes going on in the body throughout the teen years can lead to developmental problems and musculoskeletal pain. These changes, combined with the increase in high impact, strenuous sporting activity and degeneration in posture (teenage slump) often means pain in joints and muscles, or the origin of the bad habits that cause problems in later years.
It is doubly important to look after the body during this time. Treatment is beneficial for the pain being suffered at the time and to help prevent problems in the future. We all develop a pattern of movement and compensation and this determines the problems that will trouble us throughout life. The origin for this pattern and the most effective time to treat it is during childhood.
Osteopathic checking and monitoring of childhood development is one of the best ways of reducing the risk of musculoskeletal and other general health problems going undetected and causing difficulties later in life. Prevention is always better than cure, and osteopathic treatment for children can play just as big a part as dental and eye checks in maintaining the exuberant good health that should be an integral part of growing up.
Treatment, no matter what the age, is done as gently as possible and with the participation and consent of the patient. Children especially need to know that they are not going to be hurt when seeking any kind of treatment. We try to keep it fun