We bet you’ve never thought about taking your child to see an osteopath. “Kids are so flexible – why would they need to see an osteopath?”
It’s a common belief and, largely, true but there are a range of problems that may interfere with the normal musculoskeletal development of a child.
Trauma during the birth process, childhood accidents and falls can create or contribute to problems associated with bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves. Other issues faced by children include posture problems, inflammatory conditions and sporting injuries. In all these cases an osteopath can help.
A general check-up soon after delivery would be beneficial, especially after a long labour, caesarean, forceps or ventouse delivery as the process can effect the infant’s head, spine, shoulders and nervous system. Another reason for mums to bring their babies and toddlers in to see an osteopath is to check if their musculoskeletal system is restricted in any way that may affect them achieving their next milestone symmetrically (particularly gross motor), for example hip and spinal mobility for preparation to roll, crawl and so on.
“As an osteopath with a special interest in helping improving the health of babies and children, I see a wide range of conditions that can benefit from osteopathic care”, says osteopath Julia Redfern.
“Sometimes I see developmental abnormalities and help provide treatment and advice for specific areas of the body affected, and assist the rest of their body to compensate”, says Julia.
“The conditions we see that present at birth or early infancy can often still be worked on and improved in older children as they often have longer lasting effects on the biomechanics of several other areas”
Your osteopath can also assist in the management of feeding and digestion issues including reflux, constipation, difficulty feeding, unsettled or poor sleeping. Clinical research that included the osteopathic module found that the treatment might reduce the hours of crying per day and improve sleeping time in babies who have been described as having ‘colic’.
“We suggest osteopathic care for certain conditions in conjunction with general medical treatment and advice as an adjunctive therapy to help reduce severity of symptoms.” – adds Julia. “We don’t see osteopathy to be a magical “cure”.
Osteopathic sessions can also include prescribing gentle massage for areas parents can safely work on to help prolong the treatment effects, along with postural or positioning advice and exercises for constipation.
Other conditions osteopaths help manage in babies include developmental dysplasia of the hip, ‘clicky hips’; plagiocephaly which is abnormal head shape or flattening of part of the skull.
“Generally our approach for plagiocephaly includes lots of education for parents, advice on positioning and carrying, and a lot of tummy time to strengthen the neck muscles.” – says Julia.
Osteopathic care is a safe, gentle and effective hands on healthcare approach. It can assist the young body to adapt to growth-related changes which can prevent other health problems. It can help your baby grow into a healthy child and, ultimately, a healthy young adult.
About Julia Redfern
Having a strong interest in pregnancy and fertility, Julia provides osteopathic care for all aspects of women’s health, including treatment and advice for pregnant women and new mums. She is also a Clinical Pilates Instructor and Certified Infant Massage Instructor with additional postgraduate study in Obstetrics, Paediatrics, and Pre & Post Natal Pilates, to further her interest in the treatment of women, babies and children.