Get details about this alternative form of treatment and what you can expect during a routine visit...

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Colic, feeding difficulties, ear infections, runny nose, even asthma — the list of infant health conditions that can be treated with cranial osteopathy is endless. But what exactly is osteopathy?

Generally, it refers to the treatment of bodily disorders by massaging the skeleton or muscle groups.

Osteopath Virginia Tang of Osteopathic Health Care, explains that she is trained to view the human body as a unit rather than just treating an individual issue on its own. Unlike physiotherapy, osteopathy can treat ailments that aren’t confined to just muscle aches and pains such as a runny nose.

You can even bring your child to an osteopath for a general consultation to benefit their overall well-being and not only because they have a health issue.

Cranial osteopathy — a specialised form of osteopathy — focuses on massaging specific spots on your child’s skull to treat a variety of conditions.

“An example is if a baby comes in with reflux, the osteopath will not just only assess the gastrointestinal tract but they will also look [for] possible compressions in the cranium (or skull) that may cause irritation to nerves that [correspond to] the stomach.”

In fact, you can even bring your child to an osteopath for a general consultation to benefit their overall well-being and not only because they have a health issue.. Tang says parents tell her that osteopathy has helped their offspring:

* Feel more comfortable and sleep better.

* Lessen crying, reflux and colic.

* Settle down easier for naps.

Here are facts about cranial osteopathy if you’re considering this alternative therapy:

1) You’ll be asked about your pregnancy experiences Don’t be surprised if your osteopath asks questions about your pregnancy instead of just questions related to your child’s condition. Tang shares your osteopath may ask detailed questions about:

* Your health during your pregnancy.

* The length of labour and birth.

* If any form of assistance was required during the birth such as the use of forceps or vacuum.

* The baby’s general health condition after birth such as their breathing, heartrate and weight.


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2) There’s no age limit for when you can start cranial osteopathy

As long as the procedure is carried out by an accredited practitioner, you needn’t worry if your child is the “right age” for the treatment. Tang notes that her youngest patient was a newborn who was just a couple of hours old and had issues latching on to the mother’s breast during feeds. “In sheer desperation, [the parents] asked me to visit them and also assess to see if I could assist in alleviating their little one’s feeding issue.”

The questions about your pregnancy will give your osteopath a better understanding of your child’s health condition and which parts of his body may have led to the current problem.

Osteopaths are trained to use an extremely gentle touch to release any restrictions and tension on your child’s skull.

3) The osteopath will also carry out thorough checks on your child’s body Remember, since osteopathy regards the body as a unit, you can expect your osteopath to do a detailed check on different parts of your infant’s body that may seem unrelated to the problem at hand. Tang explains that depending on your tot’s health condition, they will check:
* The range of motion of their joints.
* If there’s any tension in their body’s tissues.
* Their nerve reflexes.
* If there are any noticeable compressions on their skull.

4) It is extremely gentle form of treatment Your child shouldn’t be screaming in pain during treatment. Tang says osteopaths are trained to use an extremely gentle touch to release any restrictions and tension on your child’s skull, especially since their skull’s bones are soft and have yet to fuse.

5) Cranial osteopathy is just one form of osteopathic treatment As cranial osteopathy is an extremely gentle form of treatment, it’s most commonly used to treat babies and children.

Other forms of osteopathic treatment include:
* Soft tissue Your osteopathic therapist will stretch or exert pressure on specific muscles on your kiddo’s body to treat health issues.
* Myofascial release Firm and gentle pressure is applied to the layer of connective tissue — called fascia — around the bones, muscles and organs to release any built-up tension.
* Muscle energy Your osteopath will ask you to move your muscles in a specified manner and she’ll do the same from the opposite direction. For instance, if you push your muscles in one direction, your osteopath will pull from the opposite.

Photos: iStock

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