Babies and young children have less mature joint structures than adults, as well as more delicate nervous and circulatory systems. For this reason, when osteopaths treat the very young, we only use age-appropriate techniques, and in line with both Osteopathy Australia and the overwhelming majority of osteopaths in this country, we do not support the use of spinal manipulation (the "cracking" technique) with babies and younger children.
With appropriate training, care and judgement, the evidence supports the osteopathic care of babies and children as a safe treatment approach so long as spinal manipulation is not used (research links: Koch 1998; Hayes 2006; Todd 2014).
Here are some of the problems with which babies and younger children are brought to our clinic, and for those of you with a special eye for the research supporting what we offer, there is our ever-evolving Research Page, in addition to some references below.
A Special Clinical Interest in the Care of Infants and Children
- In addition to his osteopathic qualification, Joyaa Antares has a Graduate Certificate in Neonatal & Infant Paediatric Manual Therapy and a Certificate in Infant Massage Instruction. Having a special clinical interest in an area of care within Osteopathy does not constitute being a "specialist", which is a protected term under Australian law.
Reflux & Colic
- We may help with the musculo-skeletal component of colic, and depending on the cause, we may sometimes help with reflux (research link: Dobson 2012). In view of limited evidence from trials demonstrating how we may or may not be able to help with these conditions, we are preparing a more detailed Blog that sets out the role that osteopaths may play.
Restlessness & Irritability
- Amazingly, the body of a newborn baby is designed to be squashed into a small space for several days or longer, and then squeezed out of a narrow canal over a period of some hours. Usually, this process works its way through in a relatively uncomplicated manner, but sometimes mechanical strains to body occur. Osteopaths with skills and training assess and may be able to help these strains, and may help with recovery after birth (research link: Cerritelli 2013).
Birth Trauma, Flat Head, Torticollis, Problems in Hips or Feet
- The incidence of flat heads (known as deformational plagiocephaly) has risen by about 15% since SIDS's "Back to Sleep" Campaign. Some of the babies at our clinic are also on Helmetting programs (most are not). We provide hands-on treatment, handling and positioning advice to help with problems like torticollis, plagiocephaly and some lower limb disorders (research link: Philippi 2006).
Sleep for Babies & Postnatal Check
- It isn't reasonable to expect every baby to sleep perfectly whenever it suits us, but there is a checklist of reasons why a baby may not sleep well. For some babies, therapies involving gentle touch may help with sleep problems (research link: Kelmanson 2006), and combining this with sensible management strategies may be an effective approach.
- In our opinion every baby should have a post-natal check. Some are discharged immediately with nothing untoward found by our examination. In other babies we find musculo-skeletal strains and tensions (shoulders, neck, head, hips, ...), which we treat with gentle osteopathic techniques and advice. There is an old osteopathic maxim: "Find it, fix it and leave it alone". With modern evidence-based care, we would translate this into, "Find the problem, address it as best you can, and then stop fiddling about!" Don't expect to be given a long treatment plan, because we usually find these are inappropriate. Rarely, the exception to this proves the rule.
Middle Ear Infections (Glue Ear)
- At present the scientific evidence that osteopathy can help with middle ear infections is limited, and we strongly support further research.
Headaches & Migraines
- Osteopathy treats each person as a unique individual, and this is as true of children with headaches or migraines as it is of everyone and everything that comes to our clinic. Rather than a single technique or solution for all, it may be that drawing from a selection of gentle hands-on techniques may be more helpful for headaches and migraines. This appears to be supported by the feedback that we get in clinic, but we must emphasise that very little scientific research in this area has been conducted to date, and we think that doing more research is very important. Here are two preliminary research links: Sterenberg 2009; von Stülpnagel 2009
Recovery from Knocks and Falls
- We don't offer a cure for asthma, but we may help to improve the mechanics of breathing. In our experience this may reduce the onset of an attack even when some of your normal triggers, such as exercise, change in temperature or allergy, are present. What this means is that when the trigger (e.g. an allergy) is present, you may not feel your chest tightening up as much, or as quickly, and so the sensation may not trip over into an actual attack. (Preliminary research link: Guiney 2005).
If you have a problem not mentioned above, just give us a call and we will be happy to explain whether Osteopathy is right for you. As Ashmore's longest established Osteopathy Clinic, we take pride in helping people where we can, and knowing when we cannot! If we don't think that we can help you, we will tell you and refer you in the right direction.