What is…Paediatric Osteopathy?

Prenatal Pilates
7th August 2018
Meet the instructors!
17th January 2019

What is…Paediatric Osteopathy?

When dealing with babies our Osteopath, Aimee, uses very gentle techniques based on Cranial Osteopathy. Cranial Osteopathy is a technique used by Osteopaths to calm and relax the body, it is often used to treat babies. Cranial osteopaths use a highly developed sense of touch to feel subtle changes of tension and tissue quality throughout the body, and to diagnose areas of strain or dysfunction.

By listening to the body, cranial osteopaths can release and unwind these areas of tension. This has a calming affect on the nervous system, and in turn reduces pain and discomfort. This type of treatment can be used to treat many problems, but is most commonly used to treat colic, reflux, feeding and sleeping difficulties in babies.

Cranial osteopathic treatment is very gentle and relaxing. Most babies become deeply relaxed during treatment and it is not uncommon for them to fall asleep. However, if your baby does become unsettled, we will ensure that they are calm and relaxed again before continuing treatment.

But why might a baby need treatment?

After spending 9 months in mums tum and then being squashed through the birth canal, many babies have stress and strains on the body that would benefit from a treatment.

These excessive forces mainly affect the head and neck either from natural delivery, c-section or assistance such as ventouse or forceps. Often this trauma results in tight muscles, and nerve irritation which can cause many problems. The nerves which come from the neck and head are partially responsible for controlling digestion and diaphragm function. If these nerves become irritated, it can cause tummy upset which may present as crying, discomfort, wind or vomiting.

Another way that these forces affect the body is by putting excessive movement through joints in the neck, jaw and shoulders. In cases such as this your baby may struggle to turn their head or open their mouth. This tends to result in problems with latching and feeding as it is important for the biomechanics of the neck, shoulder and jaw to work seamlessly for comfortable feeding.

Osteopathic treatment helps by reducing nerve irritation, relaxing muscles and improving biomechanics to make sure that your baby can sleep, feed, move and digest comfortably.

Most babies will benefit from an osteopathic treatment, this is due to the stress and strains that come from nine months in utero, followed by a journey through the birth canal! Most commonly treatment is helpful in cases of colic, reflux, feeding and sleeping difficulties.

So if your baby has any of these symptoms, osteopathic treatment may help:

  • Excessive crying
  • Straining and drawing knees up to chest
  • Persistent hiccups
  • Difficulty latching
  • Difficulty turning the head to one or both sides
  • Difficulty opening the mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Wind

In some instances these symptoms may be due to a problem that osteopathic treatment can not help, for example an allergy or possible tongue tie. In these cases your Osteopath will point you in the right direction for help.

Case study:

Baby x 3 months old, has suffered with latching difficulties from birth and was diagnosed with a posterior tongue tie at 3 weeks. Since then, baby x has had this operated on three times – the first two times the tongue tie had reattached. This time mum would like to see if an osteopathic treatment could prevent re-attachment.

Baby x’s presenting symptoms were:

  • Inability to form a correct latch
  • Dribbling whilst feeding
  • Becoming agitated during feeding
  • Having a preferred side for feeding
  • Biting down on the nipple causing mum severe discomfort
  • Increasing wind and vomiting
  • Excessive crying

On examination the Osteopath found:

  • A preference to turn the head to one side
  • Tightened neck and shoulder muscles on this side
  • Tight jaw muscles on both sides
  • Reduced jaw movement
  • Tightness in the diaphragm
  • Compression in the neck and upper back

Treatment included:

  • Gently massaging and stretching tight muscles
  • Cranial techniques to decompress the neck and back
  • A gentle release of the diaphragm
  • Gentle pressure to relax the jaw muscles
  • Exercises shown to mum to try before feeding to improve latch

After one treatment baby x no longer suffered from dribbling, had no preferred side when feeding and had reduced crying and vomiting. After two treatments and an increase in home exercises baby x was able to feed on both breasts without difficulty or pain.

How did osteopathic treatment help baby x?

The process of birth is one of nature’s most amazing achievements. However, the forces and torsions that babies are subject to when being delivered through the birth canal can often cause stress and strain on their little bodies.

After a long labour, baby x’s neck was squashed and twisted to one side. This caused tight muscles, irritated nerves and overall discomfort. The osteopathic treatment provided aimed to reduce muscle tension and soreness, increase movement in the neck and shoulders and to free irritated nerves which were sending mixed signals to the diaphragm and digestive system. All of these techniques combined allowed baby x to be relaxed and balanced, and much more comfortable.

We have set up a dedicated paediatric session starting on Wednesday 6th Feb 10am – 12:30pm. To book an appointment please click here, you need to choose Paediatric Osteopathy Clinic. If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call or send an email at info@bodyworksclinic.org.

Written by Aimee Popay