This is an area of personal specialisation. I have completed a number of post-graduate childrens courses including a 3 year post-graduate diploma. This included a regular clinic where severely disabled and autistic children were treated with the support and advice of some of the best Osteopaths in the World. This is in addition to an excellent undergraduate training in this field. I exclusively use Cranial Osteopathy, the most gentle yet highly effective form. It is similar to cranio-sacral therapy (Which was taken from Cranial Osteopathy), yet superior in terms of training, knowledge and results. Every baby and child would benefit from this balancing.
During birth, the baby is subjected to major compression while at the same time being twisted into the spiral shaped birth canal. Bones of the skull will often slide over each other to enable the head to fit the birth canal. This is called moulding and is normal. Ideally the bones will return to their original positions over a few days and any misshape will dissappear. However in most cases the unmoulding is incomplete, leaving abnormalities in the skull's shape and joints. This tends to be ampified in more difficult births eg. long labours or engagements, forceps or suction used, oxytocin drip used in induction. Babies are left with uncomfortable strains in the head and body, causing a variety of problems in the young baby and later on as the child develops. Relatively normal births will also produce strains which are well worth treating and could potentially lead to problems eg colic Most strains can be treated in 3-4 sessions, though there are also benefits in at least annual maintenance treatments throughout childhood. As mentioned it is a great idea to balance your baby Osteopathically in order to optimise their healing and developmental potential. Sometimes babies cry, sometimes they fall asleep during treatments. Either way, treatments are always extremely gentle and never cause any pain. Utimately babies and children will be more comfortable and relaxed in addition to other specific benefits. When treating babies, I always offer some of the time for treatment of the mother. Below are some specific problems which are commonly treated:
This is a common condition causing discomfort, flexing or arching of the body, excessive crying (Particularly evenings), poor sleep, a hard or bloated abdomen, difficulty winding and restlessness. This is usually a result of compression through the babies skull and body often irritating the vagus nerve. This in turn irritates the stomach, guts and diaphragm as well as preventing the baby fully relaxing. In addition there are often twisting strains throughout the head and body which need resolving, and in the case of c-sections often shock and irritation of the nervous systems. While long and difficult labours can predispose this, sometimes it is simply due to the position of the baby inutero or how it is engaged. Osteopathy is proven scientifically to reduce symptoms and increase baby's comfort.
This is when bile ascends from the stomach due to a sphincter not fully closing. Similarly to colic, this is often caused by compression of the vagus nerve at birth. Vomiting after feeding is a common symptom, though sometimes the reflux is silent producing no vomit, but irritating the oesophagus and causing distress after feeds. Osteopathy decompresses the nerve and balances the diaphragm correcting the problem completely.
Excessive Wind or Difficulty Winding
Again often due to compression and cranial strains affecting the vagus nerve which supplies the diaphragm, stomach and small intestine. Strains from the umbilical cord can also be a factor, affecting digestion.
Feeding and latching
Babies can have problems creating a latch when breast feeding. This can manifest as simply a poor latch on the nipple, excessive "chewing" and damage to the nipples, long feeding times, quickly dosing off when feeding or obvious discomfort when feeding. This can also be due to a number of physical problems with the shape of the mouth and palate, or the mechanics of the jaw. Alternatively, nerve problems relating to distortions in the cranium can affect tongue movement and digestion, and cause excessive wind. Sometimes tongue ties can be an issue, which can be easily diagnosed by an Osteopath and appropriate referal made where necessary. Reflux is another common problem. Sometimes it can produce excessive vomitting during or after feeds, but just as commonly can be silent leading to irritation of the oesophagus and thereore discomfort after feeding.
Sticky eyes/ recurrent eye infections
Often affects one eye but can affect both. Usually due to compression over the frontal bones and face which interferes with drainage. This can easily be treated usually in one or two treatments. Untreated it will recur and will often be "treated" with antibiotics, which will not address the root of the problem. There are also likely to be future sinus problems if not addressed.
Ear infections and discomfort
A common and usually recurrent problem affecting babies and young children. Causes pain, infection and can affect hearing, leading to learning difficulties and irritability. Caused by restriction of the temporal bone to move and pump fluid, leading to the inability of the eustacian tube of the inner ear to drain. Easily rectified with Cranial Osteoapathy. Medical treatments do not address this. They treat with multiple antibiotics, gromits (plastic inserted into the inner membrane which tends to often fall out and need replacing) and rely on the child eventually growing out of the problem as the jaw develops. By not dressing the underlying temporal bone problem, the child is predisposed to future hearing problems and infection, hormonal issues, developmental and behavioural problems.
Chest infections and Coughs
Babies and children with regular coughs, chest infections or breathing difficulties can usually be greatly helped. They can be predisposed to chest problems by C-Sections (Which result in shock), poor first breath at birth ie. baby not crying, or general compression rom birth afecting nerves to the lungs. Restoring good breathing is essential for a baby to thrive, and can avoid many future problems such as asthma ad general delayed or restricted development. Osteopathy can remove shock from the chest and restore normal rib and lung movement.
Plagiocephaly/ Flat Head Syndrome
Any assymetry of the head should be treated by a Cranial Osteopath. If left, a flattened head will tend to get worse as the baby favours lying on that part. Assymetries can be reduced by treatment, but more importantly the bones are freed up so that they can move and grow normally, preventing many problems that would otherwise result.
Reduced bowel movements often causing discomfort and distress. Usually results from pelvic and sacral problems resulting in nerve irriation afecting bowel function. Very easy to resolve using osteopathy. The medical route does not address this and would result in regular suppositories and months or years of problems.
Sleep disturbance and irritabilty
Babies can sleep only short periods and remain onn high alert Caused by a variety of factors usually stemming from cranial birth strains. The central and/or sympathetic nervous system can easily get irritated causing discomfort and preventing full relaxation, while membranous strains can cause discomort and overstimulation. Diaphragm and digestive issues can also be related. An holistic treatment approach resolves the pattern, improving sleep and general comfort.
A tightening of the neck muscles on one side causing a favouring of one side which can affect breast feeding and restrict neck rotation. Easy to resolve in infancy. Untreated, it will remain to an extent limiting neck rotation and affecting shoulders.
While the genetics can't be changed there is a lot that Cranial Osteopathy can do to maximise a baby or childs potential. Development of the face and sinus's can be greatly improved, reducing the need to mouth breath and reducing nasal congestion. This has the effect of normalising both structure and function of the face. Downs Syndrome people have normal sized tongues, it is their mouth and face which is often underdeveloped. Early treatment helps keep the tongue in the mouth which itself contributes to normal mouth development and size. Immunity is improved. A person's potential is maximised and health and life expectancy are improved. The earlier treatment commences the better. Dietary and supplement advice is also given which contributes to optimum health and development. I treat Downs Syndrome patients of all ages who all receive benefit. I mention it in the baby section as the sooner treatment starts, the greater the results and prevention of future problems.
Osteopathy helps balance the cranium aiding normal drainage and development. Health and potential is maximized by keeping the body in balance.
A seemingly modern disease which affects an unusually large number of children in this country. There is a wide range of affects and severity on the spectrum. Osteopathy can provide slow but sure improvement. Regular treatment produces better interaction and eye contact, reduces manic behaviour, improves speech where delayed and creates a better sense of wellbeing. Parents often report children to engage with them much better and to be more affectionate. In less severe cases, ability to learn and function at school are improved. Noticeable improvements are always achieved, but regular treatment is often the key.
Sleep, Relaxation and Behavioural Difficulties
These often stem from unresolved birth strain together with accumulated bumps, traumas and sometimes stress. It can sometimes be a continuation of poor sleeping habits from infancy. I calm down the "fight or flight" Automomic nervous system, and balance the Central nervous system which allows a child to fully relax and for their true personality to shine through. Common behavioural problems would include anger, oversensitivity, bed wetting, inability to concentrate and hyperactivity. These can often lead to learning difficulties. Often, perceived "Attitude problems" or learning issues at school can vanish when these strains are removed from the body, allowing the child to concentrate and deal with school work much more easily. Better relaxation and sleep also contributes to improve a childs form. I have had excellent results in this area.
I am skilled and experienced at treating emotionally related problems including trauma. These can often manifest as physical or behavioural problems. Problems do not necessarily need to be verbalised. Emotional stress and trauma can be released from the body using gentle but powerful Cranial techniques. This equally applies to adults.
Sinus blockages/infectionsand Dental Problems
Growth of the facial bones can be disturbed from birth strains. Compression or assymetries of the ones can block or reduce the sinus drainage routes. This predisposes a child to congestion, infections and sinus headaches. This also leads to mouth breathing which also increases infections and leads to dental overcrowding. I work in partnership with cutting edge orthodontists who realise the value of balancing the facial bones in obtaining the best results. Even in adults longterm sinus problems are usually quickly resolved.
This is very common in toddlers and young children. As I mentioned in the baby section, free movement of the temporal bones is required to pump fluid through the eustacian tube. Without this, recurrent surgical intervention is the norm (Gromits), as well as frequent use of antibiotics. These do not get to the root of the problem and children can suffer hearing and therfore learning delays as a result. Osteopathy cures this problem quickly and permanently.
Another very common problem not helped by a wet climate. Difficult births, C-Sections and poor first breaths can often predispose a child to chest infections or asthma. I find that even one or two treatments a year to improve the chest mechanics and free the lungs can help this hugely. Often antiobiotics and inhalers can be minimized or avoided altogether.
Posture, Scoliosis and Back Pain
Strains in the skull or elsewhere are reflected throughout the body leading to assymetry. These can usually be normalised, while without treatment they tend to get worse. Scoliosis would be an obvious example, which can effect breathing mechanics and lead to back and neck pain. More subtle assymetries can still cause nerve irritation causing pain or affecting relaxation. Sports injuries are also reduced by keeping the body mechanically balanced. Growing pains can also be helped.
Injuries, Joint and Muscle Pain
Children are always getting bumps and bruises. Areas of the body can tighten to protect an injured area, slowing healing and sometimes causing adaptation injuries or assymetries. As an Osteopath I have a far greater toolbox to treat these injuries than other therapists. Most techniques I use are very gentle yet release the injuries in a deep way which includes the connective tissue as well as the mucles and ligaments. In addition I find and correct any knock on problems which are commonly missed by less holistic therapies such as physiotherapy. Sometimes it is these problems which have actually predisposed the child or adult to the symptomatic injury.
A teenage body is under a lot of stress from physical activity. Assymetries which can occur from birth, growth, posture or physical trauma can lead to often recurrent injury. Individual injuries are expertly treated as mentioned above, but fully balancing the body is truly preventative. The footballer Steven Gerrard had serious recurrent back problems in his early career. He then started seeing an Osteopath and hardly missed a game for the rest of his long career. There is also an athletic benefit to having a symmetrical body as demonstrated by the almost perfectly symmetrical 100 metre runners.
By reducing stress in the bodies nervous systems and optimising the lymphatic system immunity is maximised. This makes the child more resiliant to both infections and viruses. In addition, sensible dietary and lifestyle advice is given which can also contribute.
Headaches and Migraines
Distortion and compression in the neck and skull, often stemming from birth can become more apparent ater the age of 7 as the bones of the skull solidify. Bloodflow to the brain is affected resulting in headaches or migraines. As with most childrens problems, this is usually resolved in just a few treatments and is a permanent solution. Drug based therapy simply manages the symptoms not the root, often resulting in longterm headaches or migraines not to mention the side effects of longterm drug use.
Calming and balancing the bodies nervous systems brings stress and anxiety back under control. I also get many children coming for treatments before exams which seems to really help them.
Constipation and Digestive Issues
Constipation usually results from problems with the sacrum which can be the result of falls on to it. Digestive problems can be due to many factors including mechanical, nerve compression and emotional. An holistic approach ensures that all these factors are addressed. Questions will also ensure diet and fluid intake is normal.