Osteopathy is a form of complementary medicine that uses manual, hands on techniques to ensure all the tissues of the body are moving well to enable better healing. Due to the nature of the practice, it is often associated with older patients that struggle with stiffness or chronic pain. However, what many people may not know is that osteopaths also treat children.
If you’re still unsure about taking your child to an osteopath, here are common treatments that osteopaths can provide for children. If you feel that osteopathy can benefit your child there is no need for a referral, osteopaths are primary care practitioners who are qualified to advise which treatment may benefit your child.
- Assess the musculoskeletal system after birth
Cesarean delivery and prolonged labour, among other circumstances, can put a strain on a baby’s body during birth, however the position of the baby in utero is far more likely to affect how their body functions after birth. Having the baby stuck up under your ribs is not comfortable for mum, however it is also not great for the baby. As a result, a baby might develop abnormalities or stresses or strains in their tissues which have already been present for months at the time of birth.
If not treated, the body may compensate for these issues, which can then lead to an unbalanced development. Consequently, the subtle physical symptoms (e.g., pain, tension) that a baby is experiencing due to these strains may grow worse over time.
In such situations, osteopaths can assess children soon after birth. It’s important to address misalignments early as they could get harder to treat as the baby gets older. An osteopath can assess a baby’s head, spine and the rest of their body and ensure the baby’s system is developing properly.
- Identifies issues that can impact development
Even long after birth, a child can still develop misalignments in their musculoskeletal structure. It’s important to make sure that a child’s joints, bones and muscles are healthy during this crucial developmental stage. Injuries during sports, poor posture, accidents and rapid periods of growth can all cause stresses and strains on the body.
An osteopath can provide manual therapeutic techniques for musculoskeletal injuries. Joint articulation movements can be used for range of motion and muscle strength. Stretches and massages can reduce muscle tightness and inflammation. If your child is still a toddler, an osteopath can check if there are any musculoskeletal or neurological factors hindering the development of your child’s motor skills.
- Relieve some physical discomforts
Physical discomforts like muscle or joint pain, digestive issues or even problems with sleep can hinder a child’s development and wellbeing. An osteo can provide a range of hands-on treatments including soft tissue massage, cranial osteopathy, resistance stretching and flexibility exercises and mobilisation and articulation of joints.
When treating a baby or child, an osteopath uses an absolute minimum of pressure with the treatment aimed at creating a healthy body alignment and relieving any tissue tensions or stresses resulting from birth or positioning in utero. Babies also tend to sleep well after cranial treatments.
- Suggest at-home exercises
After leaving the clinic or the hospital, it’s important to continue monitoring the health of your child. An osteopath may give you advice on how to conduct simple exercise and stretches at home. This might include abdominal massages, positioning tips, carrying tips and exercises that can improve muscle strength.
As your child matures, it’s essential that their bodies are given the chance to develop at home. For example, your osteopath might recommend reverse cradling and ‘tummy time’. Both of these will allow the baby to use their neck muscles regularly. These exercises will strengthen their neck muscles, allowing them to hold their heads up by themselves.
As you can see there are plenty of ways that osteopathy may benefit your child. One of the best parts of osteopathy is that it doesn’t use invasive procedures, surgery or chemical medications. To find out more about osteopathic treatments for children, talk with an osteopath today to discuss your options.