Babies and Children

Cranial Osteopathy a very gentle, safe and effective form of treatment for babies and children.  There is no more than the weight of a 20 cent coin applied to an area at one time.  It works on complicated strain patterns in bone, joints, ligament, faschia, muscle nerves and organs to find their position of ease and waits for them to release themselves rather than applying force.   In the North Middlesex and Barnet Hospitals in London, the Osteopathic Centre for Children provides osteopathy for premature infants in the Neonatal Units at the request of medical staff and patients. 

 

There is a small amount of movement that exists in the infant skull to permit the baby's head to adapt to the forces of labour. The infants head may not fully recover from the distortion of a forceps or suction delivery, a caesarean section, a slow labour or simply a natural birth.  This may cause compression of any one of the cranial nerves or the central nervous system itself. There are 12 cranial nerves responsible for vital functions in the body such as digestion, peristalsis (muscle contraction in the gut), smell, taste, sucking, chewing, vision and balance.

 

What is the difference between Cranial Osteopathy and Cranial Sacral Therapy?

Osteopath John E. Upledger discovered that it was possible to teach non osteopathic practitioners to do cranial osteopathy and so he developed and pioneered cranial sacral therapy.  In short you would expect to see very similar if not identical techniques applied to your baby/child.

 

Birth Trauma
Babies who have suffered birth trauma can often spend the first few weeks sleeping allot.  After a few weeks they may then present with symptoms of trauma.  If you know your baby has suffered a traumatic birth it would be good to get him/her checked for any strains that may present themselves in the future.

 

Breast Feeding Difficulties

Mother's may experience pain during feeding or babies may appear fussy and unable to settle on the breast.  This can be caused by difficulty swallowing, reflux or a tongue tie.  Some babies fall to sleep soon after they start to feed and appear to tire quickly.  This can also be a sign of an insufficient latch.  Osteopaths will check your baby from top to toe to check structural causes of all of the above.  It can help babies to latch by treatment of the palate, jaw and nerves supplying the tongue.  It can help reflux by treating the cranium, stomach, diaphragm and intestines.  Tongue ties are not always symptomatic and do not always need surgical intervention.  You may want your baby checked by an osteopath to eliminate all of the above before opting for surgery. 

 

Breathing/Chest Problems
Osteopathic treatment of children with asthma, bronchitis, chest infections or bronchiolitis is aimed at improving the function of the ribs, chest and lungs.

                   

Colic
Early signs of colic are a very flatulent (farty) baby and explosive stools. Loud gurgling sounds might be heard from the abdomen, the stomach might appear bloated and the baby may arch his/her back or bring his/her knees up during a colic attack. The baby may cry inconsolably for several hours or may just appear wrestless and uncomfortable in milder cases. Possible causes and common osteopathic findings during examination of babies with colic are tensions of the diaphragm, retained moulding pressure in the cranium from the uterus during pregnancy or from birth; causing compression of the vagus nerve to the stomach and/or a stress response of the brain increasing activity of the gut. Infants delivered by forceps or ventouse are particularly vulnerable to these pressures. Babies born by emergency caesarean section may have been stuck in the birth canal for some time and they are vulnerable to all types of moulding compressions in the same way as a baby born vaginally. Babies born by elective caesarean section are vulnerable to the same pressures of the uterus in the last few weeks of pregnancy and there may also be and over-reactive nervous system leaving a sense of shock due to the sudden nature of the birth. Quick deliveries may also cause a degree of irritation and overstimulation of the nervous system that persists long after birth. Osteopathic treatment of babies is very gentle and works in a way that encourages the tissues to ease and release themselves rather than applying force. Babies often enjoy it and may fall asleep during or after.  The muscles in the wall of the gut itself can also be treated to relax them. Recent research has demonstrated that osteopathy is highly effective in treating colicky babies (Hayden.C. and Mullinger B. 2006). Results showed that infants cried less and showed a significant improvement to hours of restful sleep.

 

Constipation
Constipation is reported by parents as irregular bowel movments that cause distress in the build up to a bowel motion and pain and pushing during.  Once the bowels are empty the baby or child then appears more relaxed but the cycle starts again.  Often stools are of normal consistency.  There is no single prescribed osteopathic treatment or technique for treating babies and children with constipation  We work with the whole body to release tensions and stresses wherever they are found.  The gut itself can be treated to relax the muscles in the wall of the gut thus improving motility, and relaxing tensions in the body improves the regularity and ease of bowel movements.  Osteopathic treatment of babies and children is very gentle and works in a way that encourages the tissues to ease and release themselves rather than applying force. Babies often enjoy it and may fall asleep during or after treatment. 

 

Congestion
Retained moulding from birth can impair growth and drainage of the sinuses and bones of the face causing congestion.

 

Coughs – Recurrent or Chronic
Some babies and children are very susceptible to chest infections and coughs. They may not be able to fully expand his/her lungs and osteopathic treatment to improve chest function is beneficial in reducing the frequency and severity of chest infections.

 

Crying Irritable Baby
Some babies need to be constantly rocked and held.  They may be uncomfortable or have a feeling of pressure in the head when they are laid down.

 

Ear Infections
Compression of the bones around the ears can cause narrowing of the Eustachian tube that drains the ear leaving them vulnerable to repeated ear infections.

 

Eczema
Patients have reported an improvement to eczema after osteopathic treatment.  Releasing physical and emotional stresses in the body may boost the immune system.

 

Feeding Difficulties
If there are mechanical stresses through the head, face and throat, feeding may be tiring for the baby.  Also the nerves to the tongue may be irritated as they exit the skull making sucking more difficult.

 

Frenotomy (tongue tie operation) pre and post

Babies born tongue tied will adapt to the tongue they are born with.  If it is neccesary to have your baby's tongue tie corrected then it would be advisable to have your his/her palate, jaw and nerves to his/her tongue treated alongside it.   
 

Immunity
Physical and emotional stress of any kind may deplete the immune system.


Learning Difficulties
Osteopathic treatment often helps a child to calm down, sleep better and sit still for longer increasing concentration and therefore learning.  Parents have reported sudden improvement to speech after osteopathic treatment.


Plagiocephaly/Flat Head Syndrome
All babies with asymmetrical heads should be checked by an osteopath as early as possible. Treatment may produce dramatic changes to the shape of the head if carried out soon after birth. When the child is older the shape may persist but once moulding stresses are released the bone will continue to grow unimpeded.

 

Reflux
Reflux is when the valve at the entrance to the stomach fails shut off properly allowing some of the stomach acids into the lower part of the oesophagus causing symptoms of heartburn. It is often accompanied by spitting up small or sometimes large amounds of semi-digested milk. When it is not accompanied by spitting up it is termed silent reflux. Parents will often report babies grimacing and crying while feeding or within the first 20 minutes of feeding. Some babies spontaneiously gag and empty reach. If the diaphragm is distorted it can disrupt the function of the valve. Diaphragm distortions can be caused by lying awkwardly in the womb or by pressure put on the shoulders or rib cage during delivery. Using gentle osteopathic techniques it is possible to release these distortions thus improving the function of the valve and and usually helps the reflux to resolve. The cranial approach to treatment is very gentle and works in a way that encourages the tissues to ease and release themselves rather than applying force. Babies often enjoy treatment and may fall asleep during or after.


Reflux due to Pyloric Stenosis
This has to be corrected by surgery.


Sinus Problems
Can be caused by lack of drainage from the head and neck.


Sleep Disturbances
There are many causes of sleep disturbance. Osteopaths will examine for potential pressures on the central nervous system causing the child/baby to be in a persistently alert state.


Speech Difficulties
Parents have reported sudden improvement to speech after osteopathic treatment.

 

Sticky Eye/Blocked Tearducts

Parents have reported their baby usually having one sticky eye but sometimes both since birth for up 4 months.  This is an indication that there is insufficient drainage from the head and face and that your baby needs cranial treatment.  Parents most commonly report a complete recovery after just one treatment.

 

Tongue Tie

A tongue tie can be diagnosed by certain osteopaths, cranial sacral therapists and most breast feeding consultants.  Babies born with their tongue tied are not always symptomatic and in this instance intervention is not neccesary. Some mothers report pain while breast feeding and more recent studies suggest that tongue tie can also contribute to colic and reflux.  A full examination and treatment by an osteopath would establish a cause for your babies symptoms and you will be referred where necessary.  

 

Torticollis
Torticollis or wry neck often accompanies an asymmetrical head. Babies prefer to look in one direction and seem uncomfortable/unable to look the other way. Parents can help at home and will often be receiving physio therapy. You should also seek the help of an osteopath to put the babies head and neck in the best possible condition for recovery.


Wind
Trapped wind can be very painful for babies. Babies can be anything from very distressed to just showing signs of discomfort and wrestlessness. Possible causes and common osteopathic findings during examination of windy babies are tensions of the diaphragm, retained moulding pressure in the cranium causing compression of the vagus nerve to the stomach and strain on the umbilicus. Osteopathic treatment of babies is very gentle and works in a way that encourages the tissues to ease and release themselves rather than applying any force. Babies often enjoy it and may fall asleep during or after. Parents often report their baby is much easier to wind and are more comfortable and settled after osteopathic treatment.