Child & Teenager

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“Every child has a success story to live”

 

As an osteopath I am  interested in helping children develop in a balanced and healthy way and to help them achieve their full potential. Each child is unique with their own story of their life and so I  consider the whole child in their examination and treatment.

Osteopaths have found that imbalances, strains  and restrictions in the musculoskeletal framework of the growing child can not only cause discomfort, but also influence normal growth and development in many different ways.

Osteopaths have a detailed knowledge of anatomy and physiology and a highly developed sense of touch, which I use to detect and release areas of tension or structural imbalance. Osteopathic treatment is aimed at maintaining good mobility, balance and developing or maintaining a robust quality in the musculoskeletal framework of the body. This provides the optimal physical environment for the body to function and develop.

Common Problems

Aches & pains, Bowel & Digestion, Sleep, Behaviour, etc.

Children are naturally active and often have minor falls that can upset the physical balance of the body. Some falls are fine and the body bounces back from them. But at other times, if they land just-so, usually into a weakness that developed out of a birth strain or trauma, the effects can be long-lasting.

Children may complain of aches and pains in different parts of the body, including headaches. A child’s ‘pain-mapping’ is not properly developed, so when asked where their tummy hurts, they may point to their head. This is something to  take seriously. There is usually a reason for it and an osteopathic  assessment can often detect  areas of tension or strain that are causing the pain.

A child who is physically uncomfortable over a long period of time may not complain of aches and pains, because they often will, in innocence either accept them as normal, or accept that nothing can be done about it. Look for signs in their behaviour may indicate that something is not quite right for them.

 

Older children and teenagers

It is obvious when pointed out, but children and teenagers’ bodies are not smaller adult models, but dynamically growing and changing bodies that have their own set of unique challenges when it comes to maintaining health.

 

Growth and development of the spine

Osteopaths are experts at assessing posture and monitoring development of the spine. Children often grow sporadically and areas of imbalance or asymmetry in the body that may have been present from birth can become exaggerated, particularly during growth spurts. It is common for one leg to be longer than the other and this has to be accommodated in the pelvis and spine. Osteopathic treatment can help the spine to develop in a balanced way to reduce the likelihood of back problems later on.

 

Posture

Older children and teenagers often have poor posture, slouching in chairs for many hours at a time with hunched shoulders. This can cause areas of tension in the spine. Carrying heavy school bags can further increase pressure on the spine and can contribute to aches and pains. Osteopaths encourage children and  teenagers to be as physically active as possible to maintain good muscle tone to support the spine.

 

Teenage development

Teenagers have a lot to cope with, their bodies are changing rapidly with growth and hormonal changes and there are many social and educational challenges. The constant cycle of exams and school pressure are exhausting and stressful and this often leads to a build up of physical tension in the body, which may cause a variety of symptoms including back and neck pain and tension headaches.

 

Effects of stress

Children and teenagers suffer from emotional stress and tension like adults and when tired or tense may be more irritable and given to emotional outbursts. Stress is well known to deplete the immune system and make children (and adults) more vulnerable to infection. One of the benefits of osteopathic treatment is that children and adults feel generally better and more relaxed, so moods become more even.

 

Sports injuries

Rapidly growing teenagers are more vulnerable to injuries and aches and pains, at a time when sporting activities are becoming more physically demanding. Their bones are ‘soft’. Injuries, apart from scratches and the like, are easily accomodated by the elastic framework of the young body. However these early injuries often reappear as we grow older when our bones ‘harden’. It is still possible to help with osteopathy, whatever the age. But ‘a stitch in time saves nine’!

 

General Health

A paediatric osteopath understands the various demands on the immature body of a growing child and can help with many different problems associated with this. Parents and children often report improvement in many aspects of health, general well-being and development after treatment.

 

Ask your osteopath for advice

Parents know their child better than anyone. If you are concerned about your child, notice changes in general health or well-being that do not have an obvious medical cause, or they are complaining of pain, then it is worth considering consulting an osteopath. If you are unsure whether osteopathy could help your child please phone us. I would be happy to take your call.

 

The Paediatric Osteopathy Consultation

Children of differing ages and temperaments have different requirements and we try to meet their needs in a relaxed and playful environment. The main clinic room has plenty of soft toys, wooden toys, books and musical instruments to entertain and distract children of all ages. It is also okay to bring (non-crumbly) snacks, bottles of milk, etc to help settle your baby or child. Occasionally, if a child is frightened, which can happen when he or she has been seen, and possibly hurt, by medical personel in the past, the best thing to do is treat the child on the parent’s lap whilst watching a video! Usually by the second visit, that child is relaxed and comfortable with my hands resting lightly on their head or body.

Babies can be bottle fed or breast fed during the consultation and treatment, so carers can relax too.

 

Case history

The case history is a very important part of getting to know the child as a whole person and understanding how they have developed into the child they are today. There is a 4-page medical history form for you to fill in before we meet. This can be filled in at reception or can be emailed to you in advance.

In addition, I may ask questions about:

General health

This includes a review of current symptoms, aches and pains, general health and function of all systems of the body including:

  • Digestive system, any stomach pains or digestive difficulties, history of colic as a baby.
  • Lungs, chest and breathing.Previous infections, repeated infections in one area.
  • General energy levels.
  • Sleep patterns.
  • Allergies.
General Development
  • All aspects of development, including co-ordination and balance, motor skills and performance at school.
  • Any stressful events in the child’s life ( ever)
  • Moods- is the child generally happy, moody, volatile?
  • Social Skills.
Past accidents and falls
  • Any memorable falls and accidents?
  • Does the child seem clumsy , or accident prone?
  • Have the parents noticed any changes of behaviour or health (such as infections) after a fall?
  • Pregnancy and birth details.

Examination

The case history is followed by an examination. However, since a thorough  examination can be distressing for a baby or older child, this is often kept to the minimum necessary to ensure safety and efficacy, because an increase in your child’s stres makes it harder for them to heal.

The examination may include:

  • Postural examination – to observe  any asymmetries in the posture such as length of legs, or one shoulder or hip being higher than the other and how the spinal curves are developing.
  • Palpatory examination- osteopaths have a highly developed sense of palpation and can feel minute changes in tissue tensions and quality throughout the body. Most information for an osteopath is gained from quietly feeling the body tissues and detecting areas of restriction or imbalance, poor circulation or poor function.

Diagnosis

  • The cause of the current symptoms
  • Why the symptoms have developed? This takes into account events that have happened in the past that may still be having an effect in the body.

Treatment

We will discuss the treatment plan and may refer the child to another health professional if considered necessary.

I use a variety of very gentle techniques to release those areas of tension and to restore balance and flexibility to the whole musculoskeletal system. Treatment is not uncomfortable or painful and most children enjoy their treatment. Little babies often coo and smile and restless toddlers reach for toys whilst carefully ensuring their head stays in contact with my hand!