Saturday, November 17, 2018

Your Child and Osteopathy, What Are The Benefits

When we talk about bones and muscles, we are actually discussing the musculoskeletal system of the body. In certain occasions, we divide it into 2 separate systems, namely the muscular system and the skeletal system. The former pertains to the body’s muscles including the heart, and the latter refers to the bones, joints, and connective tissues such as the ligaments and tendons; it also includes the tiny and soft bones of the ears inside and out.
These 2 body systems are intrinsically connected that their growth and development in the human body, from childhood to adulthood, are synchronized and tied with each other. That is why it is a good practice for parents to bring their children for assessment and treatment with an osteopathic specialist. Osteopathy is the medical practice that deals with the assessment and treatment of conditions related to the musculoskeletal system of the body; treatment includes massaging and manipulation of the body’s muscles, joints, bones, tendons, and ligaments. The person who specialises in osteopathy is called an Osteopath.

Happy Baby

From birth to its growth, the infant will encounter stresses and trauma that can cause problems and interfere with its normal musculoskeletal development. The trauma of being drawn out of the mother during birth, falls and accidents, and even the rapid growth of the child’s body can all contribute to problems that may hamper the normal development of its bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, and the muscles covering them. In some random situations, the child may incur inflammations and injuries resulting from sports and playing games. Sometimes, musculoskeletal conditions manifest themselves through the child’s bad postural habits.
How the Osteopath Can Help

Children normally have “flexible” bodies. Unlike adults, their bones and joints do not easily break or get misaligned with slight twists and turns. The thing is, and as mentioned above, they are not exempt from encountering traumas and stresses that can cause problematic conditions to their musculoskeletal system. This is where a paediatric osteopath (or an osteopath that has a specialisation with children) can provide assistance and care. The osteopath will work along with the child’s paediatrician and other medical specialists that provides health care to the child.

It is advisable to bring in the child for a general checkup right after a long birthing process, which will include an assessment on the baby’s spine, shoulders and head (the use of forceps and ventouse when the infant is being extracted from the mother can affect the figure and form of the head *). The osteopath can also check if there are restrictions that can prevent the symmetrical development of the bones, joints, and muscles allowing (or disallowing) the baby to perform their initial “milestones” such as crawling, rolling, standing, and eventually walking.

In coordination with the parent[s] and the child’s paediatrician, the osteopath will plan what is best to move forward after the assessment, which includes asking the parent[s] questions, checking of medical history, and physical examinations. The osteopath will know what appropriate treatment the child needs, which may involve cooperation and referral to other health care specialists.

Conditions that have been present right after birth and developmental abnormalities can often still be worked on, and the osteopath can assist on the improvements as the child grows older. As the rest of the body compensates and cooperates with the treatment, the effect on specific areas and body mechanics can be long lasting.
Other Benefits of Osteopathy for Children

Osteopathic treatment can help with the management of the baby’s feeding and digestion; it can assist in the relief of constipation, reflux, indigestion, and perturbed sleeping patterns. Other conditions wherein the osteopath can help with are the following:

    Spine curvature and postural conditions
    Growing pains on the muscles, joints, bones, and feet
    Headache and back pain
    Developmental dysplasia on the hips, or what some call “clicky hips”
    Effects of cerebral palsy

Osteopathic treatments often includes prescription for parents to apply gentle massage to the areas of the child’s body where they can safely work on. The osteopath will also advise parents about nutrition, good postural positioning and exercises that will aid the effects of the treatment.

Medical practice was relatively primitive in the late 1800's when Dr. Andrew Taylor Still discovered what is now known as Osteopathy. Few drugs were then available. Morphia and quinine were commonly overused with disastrous results. The relationship of germs to disease was not established. The cellular structure of the body was not accepted. The nature of the immune system was unknown. Antibiotics were not yet available as such.

The discovery....
What did Dr. Still discover that became known as Osteopathy? Simply stated, the Osteopathic Doctor treats the faulty functioning of body structures such as joints, muscles and tendons. First, he determines where the fault is, then by means of proper manual manipulation releases the body’s own healing powers which then are able to restore the joints or tissue being treated to normal functioning. In the traditional practice of osteopathy the skilled Doctor uses therapeutic touch alone to locate the malfunctioning body part, then gently manipulates that body part using the right amount of pressure in the right place at the right time in the right way. In addition to the treatment of joint or tissue abnormalities, Osteopathic treatment may include advice about posture, work positions, inappropriate activity, nutrition and exercise, or discussion about emotional upsets.

The training....
Dr. Still, the founder of Osteopathy, insisted that any Doctor practicing Osteopathy must have a thorough knowledge of anatomy and a keen understanding of the difference between normal and abnormal. He theorized that a healthy heart and lungs are essential for general good health and that the Osteopath’s job is to help the patient achieve a healthy blood and nerve supply. Dr. Still placed great importance on the lymphatic system, which is needed to flush away impurities as they accumulate in our tissues.

The practice....
While both Chiropractic and Osteopathy include techniques for correcting abnormal spinal conditions through manipulating the joints, Osteopathy goes a step further. In addition to treatment of the joints, it includes the adjacent muscles, fascia and ligaments making up each spinal vertebra. Osteopathic Doctors claim that their practice is more concerned with the pelvic rather than the neck region. Traditionally, the Osteopath relies more on the sense of touch than x-ray evidence for diagnosing spinal derangement. Finally, Osteopathic treatment is more rhythmical and gentle than Chiropractic.

More unique features....
Only Osteopathy specializes in the manipulation of the fascia. The fascia sheath, a thin fibrous sleeve, permeates, divides and subdivides all parts of the body surrounding muscles, arteries, veins and lymphatics, and supports a network of nerves around those body tissues. Pain and other symptoms will arise in the organ or part of the body next to the affected fascia, whenever fascia become trapped, bruised, overstretched or lack nutrition,. Manipulation of the fascia can often bring about great cures.

The Applications....
What health problems are amenable to Osteopathic treatment? The complaints most commonly helped by Osteopathic treatment are low back pain and sciatica. The treatment is to improve blood flow, relax muscles, free any joints that are not moving properly, thereby restoring normal nerve activity. Osteopathic treatment has been particularly effective for so-called "slipped discs," arthritis in the low back or hip, and pain down the leg, commonly known as sciatica.

Many conditions respond favorably to Osteopathic treatment, such as neck, upper back pain, pain in the upper limbs (including shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand), migraine and headaches. Osteopathic treatment can help patients in the early stages of osteoarthritis of the hip, and can often restore movement or at least, in the case of the more advanced stages of osteoarthritis, reduce pain and swelling in arthritic patients awaiting surgery.

The limitations....
There are several medical conditions where Osteopathic treatment should not be used, or should be used in limited circumstances, or in conjunction with other treatments, such as active infections, fractures, bone disease, cancer, gross structural deformities, and severe general medical conditions such as gross high blood pressure or heart attack, vascular disease like thrombosis, neurological conditions with nerve damage, spinal cord damage, and severe prolapse of an intervertebral disc.

Osteopathy and exercise....
Osteopathic Doctors are taught to recognize the importance of exercise and posture for health. Exercise needs to be relevant to the patient’s age, state of health and aims in life. As we age, body tissues are less flexible. It is best to begin exercising gradually, increasing to a level that does not overstrain the heart and lungs. It is wise for middle-aged or older persons to see a Medical Doctor or Osteopath before starting an exercise program.

The role of posture in health....
Poor posture can result in poor circulation and weak muscles, backache, headache and many other distressful symptoms. Good posture includes knowing the best way to stand, walk, sit and rise from a chair, how to lift heavy objects, the best work positions for different jobs, and how to relax. For instance, the most relaxed and least pressured position for the spine, known is the semi-Fowler position, that is, lying down on your back with feet raised on a cushion or stool with the knees at 90 degrees. Do this for ten minutes every day or after strenuous activity or when you feel stiff and sore.

One of the best posture training programs is the Alexander Technique. Many actors, actresses, dancers and musicians take this training to enable them to maintain more relaxed control of their bodies while performing what is very demanding work. Learning the Alexander techniques involves one-to-one teaching. Courses are available in most large cities. Posture training is also available as part of Yoga training, Tai Chi, and Feldenkrais.

New developments....
Cranial Osteopathy has more recently become a specialization within the practice of Osteopathy. It is the name given to the Osteopathic manipulation of the skull bones. Problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, skin rashes, pain in the face, problems with the teeth, heart complaints, stomach ulcer and irritable bowel syndrome can have their origin in slight pressure on nerves originating in the skull. This kind of treatment should be performed only by highly skilled and specially trained operators, and then only after careful assessment.

Osteopathy and conventional medicine....
Be aware that some Osteopaths are also MD’s. In addition to specialized training in Osteopathy, they receive the regular training of a medical doctor and would be eligible for licensing to practice as such. This would permit them to prescribe medication and perform surgery in addition to the manual manipulation of a more traditional osteopath. Osteopaths who also practice "conventional" medicine are more common in the United States. I have myself been successfully treated for sciatica by an osteopath practicing what I call traditional or classical osteopathy.

Recommended reading....
Touch of Life, by Dr. Robert C. Fulford, is an excellent introduction to the practice of Osteopathy. Ninety-one-year-old Dr. Fulford has spent more than fifty years successfully treating patients whom conventional medical treatment failed to help. This is a delightful book to read, containing Dr. Fulford’s many observations on life, health and healing gleaned from his many years of practice. The book is written in plain, readable language. Dr. Fulford presents surprising insights on herbs, homeopathy, vitamins, and diet, concluding his book with some basic stretching and breathing exercises designed to enhance our own healing powers. It’s a book you will want to read, reread and share with your family and friends. Dr. Fulford’s book, Touch of Life, is published by Pocket Books of New York City, 1997.

Osteopathic manipulation helps children who have had multiple ear infections by reducing the frequency of infections and preventing the need for surgery, according to a new study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (2003;157:861–6).

Acute otitis media (AOM, inflammation of the middle ear) is one of the leading causes of physician visits for children. Research has shown that antibiotic therapy has limited effectiveness and poses a potential danger by contributing to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains. Current recommendations discourage the use of antibiotics but offer few alternatives. Surgery is often used to treat children who have recurrent episodes of AOM. This surgery involves rupturing the eardrum and inserting a tube to allow better drainage and possibly to prevent the growth of colonies of infectious bacteria. Some osteopathic physicians have suggested that manipulative techniques might be effective in correcting structural causes of restricted drainage, thereby reducing the infection rate and the need for surgery. Preliminary studies have suggested that osteopathic manipulation might improve functioning of the eardrum in children with a history of recurrent AOM.

Fifty-seven children, ranging in age from six months to six years, participated in the current study. All of the children had experienced at least three acute ear infections in the previous six months, or at least four in the previous year. They were randomly divided into two groups: one group received routine pediatric care and the other received routine care plus nine osteopathic manipulation treatments over the study period of six months.

The treatments used were gentle techniques to open areas of restriction identified by the osteopathic physicians. These included applying pressure to joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles in any areas of restriction in the body, with special attention to the head and neck. No high-velocity "popping" techniques were used. The children receiving osteopathic manipulation treatments had significantly fewer episodes of AOM and fewer surgeries during the study period than the children receiving standard care. Furthermore, scores on eardrum function testing improved in significantly more children in the group receiving osteopathic manipulation than in the group receiving standard care.

The results of this study demonstrate that osteopathic manipulation may be beneficial as part of a treatment program for children with recurrent AOM. Including osteopathic manipulation in the treatment of recurrent AOM, as well as other complementary approaches such as identifying and eliminating reactive foods and using herbal eardrops for pain relief, may prevent antibiotic overuse and reduce the need for ear surgery. Further studies are needed to confirm the findings of this study and to determine the optimal number and frequency of treatment sessions.

Osteopathy and physiotherapy are two of the medical modalities popular among senior citizens, patients recuperating from injury, and people seeking relief from body pains caused by certain disorders. Albeit their main objective is the same (mainly to help the patient in pain relief, recovery from injury, and improvement of bodily functions) and their techniques are overlapping, their respective approach and treatment concept are practically different.

Practitioners of osteopathy are known for their knowledge and expertise on manual techniques. They apply them on their treatments with the aim of restoring balance on the patient’s body framework (particularly the musculoskeletal system) – the balance which may have been lost due to an injury or an improper lifestyle. Eventually, once the balance is seen to have been recovered, the aim shifts from restoration to maintenance if the patient chooses to continue the osteopathic treatments. Osteopathy bases its assessments and treatments on natural principles (without the intervention of invasive medications), acknowledging the power of the human body for self-recuperation, in the journey towards optimal health and wellness.


Physiotherapists are experts on rehabilitative science and methods. Their speciality is to rehabilitate a patient and help recover his/her mobility which may have been damage by an injury, sickness, or (even) congenital disorder. In order to achieve this, physiotherapists make use of a variety of methods which include (but not limited to) therapeutic exercises, guided physical movements, and manual adjustments of bones, joints, and muscles. Sometimes, the aid of tools are utilised to assist in the rehabilitative process; they may include water, mild electrical pulses, temperature (cold and heat), and lighting combinations. Physiotherapy also aims to help patients in relieving pain, preventing some disorders, and improving blood circulation. Better blood circulation eventually results in improved distribution of nutrients and oxygen among the different cells and tissues, smoother cleansing of toxic substances in the body, and faster healing and recuperation making the patient able to achieve the best health possible.

For more detailed specifics of these 2 medical modalities, please read our article about How to Differentiate Physiotherapy, Osteopathy and Chiropractic.

Today, not a few people mistakenly identify the practitioners of these 2 medical branches as one and the same. This is not surprising because, when they come to a physical therapy clinic, they often find that the medical specialist in attendance has the expertise of both modalities. Note that both practices require formal learning, normally a Bachelor’s degree; some practitioners even go the extra-mile of pursuing a Master’s degree.

Although physical therapy or physiotherapy is the more accepted modality in mainstream medicine, many physiotherapists are learning osteopathy and are applying osteopathic techniques in both their diagnoses and treatments. This is mainly because of the involvement of manual manipulation or massage in the practice of physical therapy, which is the core method of treatment in osteopathy.

Every physician and medical practitioner wants his or her patient to be well and healthy. Whatever bodily disorder is ailing the patient, the medical professional is ever willing to provide assistance in bringing about remedy and, whenever necessary, ask the aid of specialists from other modalities. His/her concern and mission is to help people get rid of their pains and eventually achieve health and wellness.

So it is with osteopaths. In the previous issues of MedicalWebsite Infomagazine, we have discussed how osteopaths are able to help mothers recover from post-natal conditions and how babies can benefit from osteopathic treatments. In this article, we encourage you to read on as we provide you with the top reasons why normal adults like you need to visit an osteopath for a regular check and treatment.

1. Osteopathy uses natural treatments

The primary advantage of osteopathy is that it does not utilise invasive procedures and substances. The treatments are all natural because osteopaths apply pure manipulation of your joints, muscles, and bones. No drugs are necessary and, in fact, if you are undergoing treatment from a regular physician, osteopathic care will not interfere with it.

Osteopaths deal with the philosophy that the human body has the natural ability to heal itself. You need not worry about chemicals being induced into your body, which may cause some side effects later on.
2. Relief from pain

Most people will go see a doctor primarily because they are experiencing pain or sickness. Osteopaths can offer assistance for people who seek relief from pain, be it recent (acute pain) or recurring (chronic pain).

Two of the most common conditions patients seek comfort from, and wherein osteopaths are often called for, are back pain and neck pain. Most adults, due to various sedentary postures like prolonged sitting, experience stiffness of the spine resulting to aches and unpredictable spasms. The goal of the osteopath is to trim down the tensions in the muscles and ligaments of the spine in order to bring back its mobility, thus making your neck and back ease up from the stiffness.
3. Keep you functional

You may think that the pain you are experiencing is not caused by stress, but if you allow it to linger and worsen, then it will become a source of stress for you. With the many sources of stress our modern living entails, you cannot assume that your body is going to be always free from tensions. The simple act of prolonged sitting in an office chair or driving a car for a number of hours has tremendous impact on your postural health and musculoskeletal condition.

One of the objective of osteopathic treatments is to maintain your functional lifestyle – if necessary and when applicable, to keep you from experiencing debilitating body aches.
4. Minimise risks of injuries

Whether you are a person who is engaged in strenuous sport activities or who is satisfied with doing a daily jog or walking, there is always a risk of possible injury. If ever such injury happens, it can take weeks or months for you to recover and perform your usual activities.

Your visit with an osteopath once in a month or every 2 months can minimise the risk of injuries. The regular therapeutic exercises and stretches, body massage treatments, and the professional advices the osteopath employs on the patient can get your entire body parts to work together as one. The application of massage can alleviate the tensions your body endures from the physical activities, allowing it to regain its optimum condition.

If in case an injury does happen, your body which has received maintenance treatments from osteopathic care can easily recover from the trauma. Rehabilitation is much faster and softer than with someone who did not have regular osteopathic maintenance.
5. Osteopathy treats health and wellness as a whole

When we talk about complete wellness, we cannot deny the necessity to deal with the various aspects of human health. You need to take care of them overall – physical, mental, emotional, and nutritional. There is another aspect that is often ignored, and this is the MOTIONAL aspect. Motional means the body’s movements, and they too are pivotal to a human being’s health of mind and body.

In osteopathy, the practitioner focuses on treating your health and wellness in their entirety. He/she does not only deal with one dimension of the problem, but takes a look at it on how it was caused and how it affects the whole physique. Thus, osteopathy allows your body to take on the healing process faster and with better results.
6. Less expensive yet approved by local health regulatory organisations

Given that it does not make use of medications and other chemical intakes, osteopathic treatments are not going to cost you more money. It is a medical practice that is regulated and approved by the government. In Australia, the regulatory group that manages the practice of osteopathy and the accreditation of osteopaths is the Osteopathy Board of Australia.

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