Osteopathy for Babies, Children & Teenagers
Why do Babies, Children & Teenagers need to see an Osteopath?
Not all osteopaths are qualified to treat babies and children. Osteopaths who undergo further training in this field after they attain their degrees are better equipped to treat problems that present.
Babies & Young Children
It is a commonly held view that because babies and children are young, they should not have any structural defects in their bodies. However, this is not the case as most parents will tell you. Birth is one of the most stressful events of life: the baby’s body is subject to enormous forces during the birth process. As the baby turns to position itself during the birth process, more strains are placed on the baby’s body and head.
Although the baby’s head is designed to mould to these stresses, this process may cause the body or head to become distorted. These strains are usually released after the birth process. However, if the birth stresses are unresolved, they can be accommodated in the body’s natural growth adaptation patterns. This may result in the baby or child being uncomfortable and therefore unhappy or developing in an unsymmetrical way and developing other types of symptoms the assymetry puts the pressure other soft tissues
Following careful diagnosis, an osteopath may be able to explain the problems your baby or child is experiencing. Using gentle manipulative techniques, the osteopath can help to release these physical strains and stresses.
As a result of osteopathic treatment, patients and parents often remark on an improvement in many areas of health, other that what they first presented to us with.
THE MAIN REASONS WHY A PARENT PRESENTS WITH THEIR BABY OR YOUNG CHILDREN ARE:
All babies cry to some extent but some more than others. Uncomfortable babies may not only cry a lot, be restless and fractious, but they also may be jumpy and take a long time to settle to sleep. They typically do not like lying down and need carrying all the time. These babies are not simply being naughty; they may require more reassurance from their parents to help cope with how they are feeling.
Here at the Stamford Osteopathic Clinic we have set up a Baby Feeding Clinic where in osteopaths and midwives work along side each other to help resolve the difficulties you are experiencing.
Unfortunately, not all babies feed well from birth. Some babies prefer to feed on one side. This may indicate the baby may have a strain from birth that prevents the baby from turning his/her neck well to either side. We know that feeding requires the complex coordination of the muscles and joints of the face, mouth, skull, throat and neck. Compressive forces experienced in these areas during pregnancy and birth may cause feeding difficulties later on.
A baby who fusses and fidgets may have problems in the back of his neck or head. This is made worse for the baby when the baby’s head rests on a bony forearm to feed.
The nerve to the tongue exits from the skull behind the ear. This area may take a great deal of force during the birth process. This may lead to feeding difficulties after birth.
If the cord becomes wrapped around the neck during the birth process this may cause irritation to the neurological structures in the neck affecting the feeding mechanisms. In addition, the neck area may have been over stretched as the baby’s head accommodates in the birthing process.
A baby that is not feeding effectively may exhibit slower weight gain.
Establishing good feeding habits is key to the new-born thriving. Early visits to the osteopath and midwife may help in establishing this.
Studies show that 25% - 40% of babies suffer from colic. Colic is said to disappear after three months. Without osteopathic treatment, some babies who present in our clinic can still exhibit symptoms of colic at one year.
There may be several reasons why digestive problems occur. It is understood that mechanical stresses placed upon the baby during labour and delivery may cause or aggravate the process of digestion.
It is believed that retained compressions can irritate the nerves involved in gut function, impair the efficiency of digestion, and interfere with normal digestion processes.
Head Shape (Plagiocephaly & Torticollis):
Babies have a wide variety of head shapes. Asymmetry of head shape is a result of head moulding either from pregnancy or birth. This can have far reaching consequences.
A tilted and rotated head and neck may also result in asymmetric head adaptation patterns resulting in a flattened head. In addition, prolonged periods of time lying on their backs may also lead to a baby having a distorted head shape).
It is understood that babies who feed poorly wake more often as they have not had enough milk to sustain them.
Other things such as discomfort in the baby’s body may wake a baby. If a baby is more alert or jumpy than normal, he/she may be difficult to settle and therefore easier to wake.
Osteopaths may help in relaxing the baby and allow them to become more settled and therefore sleep better.
Good function of the lymphatic system is important for good health. Osteopaths may be able to work on the lymphatic system of the body to improve its overall function. Areas of osteopathic work centre around the chest, thorax and neck. These areas are particularly important for lymphatic drainage of the ears, nose and throat. The anatomical arrangement of structures in the ear lends itself to poor drainage of the area.
Patients to our clinic may also present with lymphedema, repetitive chest infections and ear, nose and throat problems.
Sinuses are air cavities in the skull. They rely of tiny cellular movements to pump mucus out of them. If this movement is impeded the sinuses may become blocked. This may contribute to recurrent sinus infections.
It is believed that the retained moulding compressions in the skull may restrict the normal function of the sinuses. Later on in the child’s life, falls or blows to the head may also play a part in contributing to recurrent problems.
Affected children are often mouth breathers. Their faces show signs of poor drainage around the eyes and bridge of the nose.
Osteopaths may be able to work on anatomical structures, prescribe specific lifestyle changes and exercises in order to improve these problems.
Headaches and other Aches and Pains:
Many children present to osteopaths with headaches and musculo-skeletal pain in the same way that adults do. Headaches may start around 7-8 years of age when the sutures or joints of the skull form properly. This reduces the ability of the skull to accommodate to any additional traumas it must deal with such as postural strain whilst sitting at a desk or a computer.
Children may also suffer from ‘growing pains’ these may be related to birth or other mechanical traumas as well as rapid growth spurts.
There are many causes of asthma in children. A child might experience a mild form of the condition or a potentially life threatening one.
Asthmatic children can have a very tight chest which in turn restricts the respiratory function, thus exacerbating the breathing difficulties.
Osteopaths work on the breathing mechanics of the thorax, neck and mouth with the aim of improving the respiratory function of the individual. They can prescribe exercises that may help with mouth breathing and overall respiratory function.
Dental patterns are often genetically determined. They may be also influenced by developmental stresses imposed by the growing face. In addition, the orthodontic treatment carried out to address the mal-alignment of the teeth, may also have a dramatic affect on the normal function of the face. This may affect the whole body and may results in many other unresolving issues that the child may complain of such as headaches, clicking jaws, neck pain, stomach pains, ear pains. Osteopaths work to identify and diagnose the structures causing the symtoms and if possible help alleviate the problems arizing from them
Older Children & Teenagers
(Back Ache, Neck Pain, Headaches) – neck, shoulder and back problems can arise from poor posture at desks or whilst using computer technology systems and mobile phones. These can lead to several problems for the teenager to deal with including headaches, neck pain, back ache.
Soft tissue and facial tension from strained anatomical structures, particularly in the legs and feet can result in what is generally thought of as ‘growing pains’. Osteopaths give advice and work to resolve these issues as quickly as possible. Advice may involve exercises, or the prescription of orthotics.
Pain from this type of issue may be helped by osteopathic treatment and advice with regard to orthotics and exercise.
Sports Injuries/Traumas /Accidents
Many painful problems arise from the unresolved effects of these traumas. Left untreated these effects may lead to longer term issues for the patient later in their life. A trip to the osteopath to diagnose and treat such problems may benefit the child both immediately and prevent problems from occuring in the future.
Osteopaths can diagnose and treat problems as well as give appropriate advice about lifestyle changes and exercises that can benefit the individual in their recovery from a problem.