10 reasons why I think children are the best patients

What I deeply love about our profession as osteopaths, is that we all have the opportunity to find fields we feel passionate about and where we are at our best.
I do love treating everyone from any age and background and I feel fulfilled and thankful every day for doing what I love.

I found myself having special interest in paediatric early, even before my life as an osteopath, I knew I wanted to work with children.

For me, children are the best patients, and here is why:

  1. Their body is full of vitality. They have not been worn out by life, they are only discovering the world and learning to grow up.
    This makes treatment more efficient and quicker but also challenging at times when they are jumping everywhere.

  2. They always, (always), tell you what they think and how they feel. Or if they can’t talk, they will make you understand in their own way (biting, gazing, avoiding your hands..).
    If you don’t do your job well, they won’t spare you. They are your best critics.

  3. They don’t care about what others think. They are their own mind and person and if parents do well they will manage to contain them. But they will do things the way they intend to do them and no one will change that. Even if it includes getting into their dippers for treatment when you don’t necessarily need them to undress.

  4. They are your best Personal Trainer ever: making you work out, muscle strength by lifting and carrying them, and cardio, by running after them when they decided that they didn’t want treatment this day.
    They challenge your mind, pushing you to your limit and make you tougher, reminding you how a toy thrown in your face is great and non painful (AT ALL).

  5. They push you to be fashionable, by making you change your top up to 2-3 times a day sometimes, due to food or ‘body fluid’ incidents.

  6. They make you become the best illusionist and multi-tasker of all time, as you need to find ways to distract them when you are treating them if they are having one of those days.

  7. They show you their gratitude with cuddle, drawing, smiles, screams, kicks, saliva, and only other great things they produced themself!

  8. They inspire you and remind you how life does not have to be so serious all the time. They make you travel and play by telling you all about their imaginary world.

  9. They are your best parenting training ever, as you have been treating so many of them. And if they have a tantrum during your consultation, you can let the parents taking care of it 😀

  10. Making them feeling better and helping them recovering, supporting their family is the best rewarding feeling as their osteopath.

These points are probably very familiar to most of parents but obviously nowhere near true parenting challenges 😉

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Cranial Osteopathy

Cranial osteopathy follows the same principles mentioned earlier and does not just apply to the head. There are subtle and light techniques used to diagnose and address strains or dysfunctions of the different structures within the head and the living anatomy of the body.

Throughout time, following old injuries or trauma (such as a car accident or ski fall), your body may have adapted and compensated around lesions, that may be asymptomatic but contribute to other symptoms you are presenting with.

Working cranially, I would look for those lesions and aim to restore balance, expansion and release through the different structures, including membranes, fascias, muscle, ligaments, fluid, inter/intra osseous spaces etc. This would promote self-healing of your body.
Those techniques can be very subtle and sometimes it may feel like my hands are just resting on your body, but actually there is a strong connectivity settled between the osteopath and the patient’s body, where the osteopath is deeply reading through the body’s expression and different structures, looking for a way to help it to unfold and heal.

You may find yourself very dizzy, light-headed or very tired after a treatment, especially if you’ve never had cranial osteopathy before. Sometimes you may feel very emotional and touchy, if the treatment released an old emotional trauma.
Drink plenty of water and avoid strenuous activity and you should be fine after couple of hours! I usually say that any sort of side effect (if any) of the treatment should last between 12 to 24 hrs post consultation.

Cranial osteopathy is a well-known approach to babies but is also nicely effective on children, adult, and the elderly! like any other type of osteopathy.

Visceral manipulation

Visceral Osteopathy is a way to approach tension and dysfunction of the body from an organ and its surrounding tissues, in order to improve movement and space dynamics from within.

In the general physical assessment, I may find a contributing factor to my patient’s problem and posture from altered or decreased motion in one or more organs. Although in most cases the organ itself would be asymptomatic, it does not make visceral manipulation less relevant. Alongside the principles osteopathy uses as reference, it is using the 3 dimensional dynamics of the body mechanics as a restricted organ will affect surrounding soft tissues and functions.

In addition to structural attachments, organs, membranes, blood vessels, share common nervous pathways with your ‘structural’ body (muscles, bones, joints) from your spine. This means that tissues receiving supply from the same area of your spine, influence each other via nervous reflexes. For example: a prolonged mid back pain may cause you stomach pain, or chronic heart burns could cause you mid-back discomfort.

Via gentle technique and assessment I will be looking for altered or decreased motion of a viscera and any restrictive pattern of the body. I would be aiming to encourage the normal mobility, motion and tone of a viscera and their connective tissues.

This would promote function of individual organs, surrounding systems, effective circulation and drainage of body fluid and support to body structure, contributing to restore self-healing and health.

Structural techniques

I find them efficient for acute injuries, muscular tension, decreased movement of a joint, stiffness and aches.
My treatment includes structural manipulations such as:

  • Soft tissue, massage, stretches
  • MET:
    MET is a direct active technique which uses isometric contraction in order to induce physiological changes promoting better joint movement and muscle health. Good alternative a simple stretch.
  • Strain counterstrain:
    It is a more indirect and subtle technique, using position of ‘ease’ of muscle and joints using complexe nervous reflexes from your tissues to the spine and from your spine back to your tissue in order to decrease muscle spasms, trigger points, chronic pain in one area.
  • High Velocity Thrust (HVT) or High Velocity Low Amplitude (HVLA) thrust:
    This is a joint manipulation achieving (not at all time) cavitation of a restricted joint, in your spine or peripheral joints. It is a short (low amplitude), quick (high-velocity) technique with the goal of restoring normal range of motion in the joint.
  • Articulation:
    Passive movement reinforced into a restricted joint. This would be a more gentle way of improving motion in a joint, breaking down fibrosis and scaring tissue.
  • Lymphatic drainage, pumping:
    Total body pumping techniques aiming to stimulate fluid drainage of your tissues and muscles in order to promote their best state and nutrition, avoiding building of wastage product and tissue damage. very efficient for oedema, heavy legs, poor peripheral circulation.
  • Recoil:
    It is a technique using the elasticity of a the connective tissue to correct a dysfunction. It implies pressure induced stretch and quick release, usually using breathing. It also influences the state of vegetative nervous system.

Women’s Health and Paediatrics

In pregnancy:
Osteopathy will assist and help you coping with or prevent problems like:

  • Low back pain,
  • Reflux, digestive discomfort
  • Ligament laxity
  • Pubic pain
  • Neck pain
  • Cramps
  • Fatigue
  • Sleeplessness
  • Heavy legs, poor circulation, swollen feet, ankles, fingers
  • Varicose veins (poor circulation)
  • Discomfort breathing, shortness of breath
  • Sciatica
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome82

After birth time:
In addition to the ones above, we can help recovering and coping with:

  • Healing from the epidural site,
  • Fatigue,
  • General tensions and aches from holding your baby,
  • Hyper flexibility of joint
  • Pelvic or low back strains
  • Bladder control, pelvic floor
  • Feeding techniques and postural advice

For little one:
Osteopathy is or may be useful for:

  • General health and function check up
  • Recovering from traumatic birth (fetal distress, ventouse, forceps, C section, resuscitation etc); relieving compressions, tensions and assymetries
  • Monitoring progress of developmental milestones (especially neuromotor ones)
  • Addressing the effects of any major physical mishaps or developmental lag to prevent problems developing in future61

Strains and trauma from the birth or pregnancy can predispose to unsettled behaviour and difficulties with feeding, winding, digestion and sleeping. With gentle osteopathic treatment relieving those physical strains can be very helpful and relaxing.

Here are some common conditions that babies and children can suffer from:

  • Premature birth
  • Fussy baby, unsettled
  • Feeding difficulty
  • Tongue tie
  • Sleeping disturbance
  • Colic, aerophagia, constipation
  • Reflux (general or silent)
  • Torticollis
  • Plagiocephaly (flattening of the head) or other head deformities
  • Teething
  • Chest infections
  • Irritation from vaccins
  • Congenital abnormalities (helping coping with symptoms associated with, eg: autism, epilepsy)
  • Asthma or other atopic problems (helping coping with symptoms associated with)
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Orthopaedic conditions (talipes, scoliosis etc)