Babies and Osteopathy

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Babies and Osteopathy




For Babies & Children

Create Wellness Center

Dr. Joseph Kim

  • First Korean Osteopath trained and registered in UK
  • Registrant of General Osteopaths Council, UK (GOsC)
  • Member of British Osteopathic Association (BOA)
  • First and only Osteopath in Korea
Dr. Joseph with his patients

What is Cranial Osteopathy?

Cranial osteopathy is a refined and subtle type of osteopathic treatment that encourages the release of stresses and tensions throughout the body, including the head. It is a gentle yet extremely effective approach and may be used in a wide range of conditions for people of all ages, from birth to old age. Osteopaths may have different specialities including sports injuries, paediatrics, and visceral osteopathy (treating the internal organs of the body).

Cranial osteopathy embraces all of these.

The Cranial Rhythm

Cranial osteopaths are trained to feel a very subtle, rhythmical shape change that is present in all body tissues. This is called Involuntary Motion or the Cranial Rhythm. The movement is of very small amplitude, therefore it takes practitioners with a very finely developed sense of touch to feel it. This motion was first described in the early 1900’s by Dr. William G. Sutherland and its existence was presented in 1939, then confirmed in a series of laboratory tests in the 1960’s and ’70’s….More recently, MRI studies in Russia have demonstrated that Dr.Sutherland’s palpation was accurate.

Tension in the body disrupts the cranial rhythm. Practitioners compare what your rhythm is doing to what they consider ideal. This shows them what stresses and strains your body is under at present, and what tensions it may be carrying as a result of its past history. It also gives them an insight into the overall condition of your body, for example if it is healthy, or stressed and tired.

Accumulation of stress and strain in the body

When we experience physical or emotional stresses our body tissues tend to tighten up. The body may have been able to adapt to these effects at the time, but a lasting strain often remains. Any tensions which remain held in the body can restrict its free movement. Gradually the body may find it more and more difficult to cope with accumulated stresses and symptoms may develop.

Cranial Osteopathy for babies and children

It is a common belief that babies and children should have no structural stresses or strains in their bodies, because they are ‘so young’. The reality is very different. Birth is one of the most stressful events of our lives. The baby is subjected to enormous forces, as the uterus pushes to expel the baby against the natural resistance of the birth canal. The baby has to turn and twist as it squeezes through the bony pelvis, on its short but highly stimulating and potentially stressful journey. The baby’s head has the remarkable ability to absorb these stresses in a normal delivery. In order to reduce the size of the head, the soft bones overlap, bend and warp as the baby descends. The baby’s chin is normally well tucked down towards its chest to reduce the presenting diameter of the head.

Many babies are born with odd shaped heads as a result. In the first few days, the head can usually be seen to gradually lose the extreme moulded shape, as the baby suckles, cries and yawns.

However, this unmoulding process is often incomplete, especially if the birth has been difficult. As a result, the baby may have to live with some very uncomfortable stresses within its head and body.

Cranial osteopathic treatment

Osteopathic treatment using the cranial approach is gentle, safe and effective for babies and children. Very specific, skilled, light pressure is applied where necessary to assist the natural ability of the body to release stresses and tensions.

Could there be any adverse reactions?

Reactions to treatment are variable, often the baby or child is very relaxed afterwards and sleeps well. Others have a burst of energy after treatment, usually followed by a good nights sleep. Occasionally children are unsettled fter treatment. This is a temporary situation, and usually clears within 24-48 hours.

What problems can cranial osteopathy help with in babies?

Some babies cope extremely well with even quite severe retained moulding and compression, and are contented and happy. For others it is a different story, and they can display a variety of problems.

ü  Crying, screaming, irritability

The baby may be uncomfortable, with a constant feeling of pressure in the head. This may be made worse by the extra pressure on the head when lying down.

ü  Feeding difficulties

The baby takes a long time to feed and one feed merges into the next. They may be a ‘windy’ feeder. Feeding is difficult and tiring due to mechanical stresses through the head, face and throat. The nerves to the tongue may be irritated as they exit from the skull, which makes sucking difficult.


ü  Sickness, Trapped Wind & Abdominal Discomfort

Regurgitation of milk between feeds, bouts of prolonged crying due to colic and wind. Often worse in the evening. The nerve to the stomach may be irritated as it exits from the base of the skull, which can impair digestion. The diaphragm between the chest and the abdomen may be stressed or distorted, which further compromises both digestion and the ability of the stomach to retain its contents. Stress from a difficult or fast birth can leave the digestive system in tension trapping wind. Any strain through the umbilical cord, for instance if it was around the baby’s neck, can add to strains in the abdomen.

ü  Sleep disturbances

The baby sleeps for only short periods, and may sleep little in the day (or night!). They wake to the slightest noise- “jumpy”. The tension on the bony and membranous casing of the skull keeps the baby’s nervous system in a persistently alert state.

What problems can cranial osteopathy help with in older children?

As the child grows, the effects of retained moulding can lead to other problems. The following are the most common, but it is by no means an exhaustive list.

ü  Infections

Retained moulding and birth stresses take their toll on the body’s reserves, and also deplete the immune system. This leaves children more vulnerable to all types of infection.

ü  Ear infection

Recurrent ear infections, gradually becoming more frequent. May lead to ‘glue ear’ and some temporary loss of hearing. Retained birth compression within and around the bones of the ear impedes fluid drainage from the ear with partial or complete blocking of the Eustachian tube. Infections may never fully clear, leaving a vulnerability to the next infection and a depleted immune system.

ü  Sinus and dental problems

Persistent mouth breathers. Constantly blocked or runny nose. Impaired growth and drainage of the sinuses and bones of the face due to retained moulding compression. Later, this increases the chance of dental overcrowding.

ü  Headache, aches and pains

Headaches begin age 7-8. Growing pains. Vulnerability to sprains, or other aches and pains. Retained moulding may focus areas of pressure in the skull, as the bony joints of the skull fully form at around the age of 7-8 years. Patterns of tension retained in other areas make the body more vulnerable to strain and fatigue.


ü  Breathing Difficulties

Vulnerability to chest infections, Asthma …. Aggravation of all degrees of asthma from mild to severe. Retained moulding compression can aggravate a tendency to asthma. General lowered immunity leads to more chest infections. After infections, the chest remains tense and the ribs do not return to full function, aggravating an asthmatic tendency.












Let’s read the following the articles :


Article 1 :  BBC NEWS Health “ Cranial Osteopathy Baby to sleep”


Article 2 : UK ivillage “ Cranial Osteopathy – Dr Howard Lee investigates “


Article 3 : Families SW (London) Magazine “ Cranial Osteopathy – why it treats children and not diseases “



 Article 1 :  BBC NEWS Health “ Cranial Osteopathy Baby to sleep”





Tuesday, August 25, 1998 Published at 00:46 GMT 01:46 UK


Massage baby to sleep

Two thirds of the group under study saw remarkable improvements.

Cranial osteopathy really can help disturbed babies sleep at night, according to new research carried out in Manchester. The work is thought to be the first formal investigation of osteopathy in the UK, which was officially recognised by the medical authorities just three months ago. BBC North West Health Correspondent Clare Smith reports:


Philip Owen is a cranial osteopath. His profession received official recognition only this year, but Corinne Cohen does not care about the credentials: she has a baby girl who refuses to sleep at night and she is desperate for results.

“If I get four hours unbroken sleep, that is very good for Lydia,” says Corinne.

“At her worst she would sleep a maximum of about two hours and I’d be up six or seven times during the night with her.”

After seven months of trying to cope with little Lydia’s disturbed nights, Corinne can barely function. It does not bother her that Mr Owen cannot reproduce scientifically the change he claims to make when massaging the baby’s skull.

“By gently listening with my hands and palpating the bones of the skull and the spine, I can detect little areas of tension, little areas of a build-up of pressure that may well be having a disturbing effect on that child,” explains Mr Cohen.

His research showed that two thirds of a group under study saw remarkable improvements. The disturbed babies went from just a couple of hours’ rest a night before treatment, to up to thirteen hours’ unbroken sleep after. And for most babies, the change was fast and permanent.

Moving skull

His explanations seem coherent. Skulls are made up of several pieces that move against each other. If they grate, or get stuck, it causes tension. Tension can cause sleeplessness.

Bonnie McClaren was another of the babies in the study.

“She’d only ever sleep for an hour at any one given time,” says her mother, Karen.

“And when she woke up she’d beat the sides of her cot, before she’d open her eyes even.”

Karen tried everything until she went to see a man she initially viewed as something of a witchdoctor.

“It literally was from having seen him in the evening, she slept right the way through that night, and she’s slept ever since.

“She’s so much happier. She smiles, she giggles, she wake up laughing now.”

For some in the group the initial improvements disappeared – but even traditional medicine doesn’t work for everyone all the time.

The techniques of cranial osteopathy were developed in Thirties. They are used in babies to deal with a number of problems from colic, to chronic ear infections and delayed development



Article 2 : UK ivillage “ Cranial Osteopathy – Dr Howard Lee investigates “


Cranial osteopathy for children

By Dr Howard Lee

Could cranial osteopathy relieve distressing pain and pressure in babies and small children? Dr Howard Lee investigates

Cranial osteopathy is associated with the oldest known method of healing – the ‘laying on of hands’. Cranial osteopaths were originally labelled ‘quacks’ for stating that the bones of the skull should be slightly mobile to allow the contained structures to grow and develop normally – and permit treatments. The development of modern examination and diagnostic equipment has confirmed these early statements.

Osteopathy originated from the belief that misaligned bones and improper joint functions were responsible for pain and disease – resulting from a change in circulating blood in the back – and led to the development of various techniques like ‘mobilisation, massage, gentle manipulation and stretching’. Such therapy works by restoring a necessary balance to structures of the skeleton, which, in turn, aids a return to a healthy function.

Early experiments
Cranial osteopathy was developed in the early 1900s by American osteopath William G Sutherland. He concentrated on very gentle osteopathy to the head, believing that proper functioning of the brain and nervous system depended on the ability of the bones of the skull to move slightly. He experimented on his own head and found that restrictions of movement and varying pressures (which he achieved using a helmet-like device) produced pain in various areas and had a subsequent effect on his overall health, both mentally and physically. His experiments demonstrated that gentle compression in certain areas could help, as well as detect, many problems.

Birth stress for babies
It is widely thought that babies and children have no structural ‘stresses’ in their bodies simply because of their age. The reality is very different. Enormous forces have expelled the baby against the natural resistance of the birth canal. The baby’s head is compressed, twisted and moulded in order to facilitate the birth. This birth trauma may be compounded by any of the possible complications that can occur in delivery (for example the necessity for forceps assistance).

After delivery the head gradually un-moulds over the next few days. In some cases, however, the un-moulding process may be incomplete and this is especially so in the case of a particularly difficult or assisted birth. In cases like this the baby may have uncomfortable stresses remaining within the head and body, and while many do cope very well, others can show a variety of problems.

How does cranial osteopathy help?

Cranial osteopathy can help a wide variety of conditions in infants and young children, for example: Digestive problems like colic and feeding difficulties as a result of changed mechanical stresses.Sickness and wind problems as a possible result of stomach and diaphragm pressure changes.Screaming, crying, irritability and hyperactivity due to possible uncomfortable head pressure.Sleep disturbances as a result of increased irritability in the nervous system.


Does it work for older children?

In older children, during the growth period, retained moulding can lead to further problems, such as:Ear and general infections – as a result of influences on the child’s general susceptibility to infection. One of the most common problems encountered in the early years is the development of troublesome symptoms from glue ear, along with associated hearing problems. Cranial osteopathy can restore the normal drainage of fluid through the Eustachian tubes and thus aid a return of hearing.A constantly blocked or runny nose – as a result of impaired growth and drainage of the sinuses – is often due to retained moulding stresses in a normal child. Various behavioural problems, learning difficulties and special needs. It may well be that the restlessness of young babies is carried forward as the child grows. This can lead to poor concentration, hyperactivity and fidgetiness. The brain’s normal patterns of function may be disturbed and modified, and cranial osteopathy has a special place in the treatment of such conditions.Asthma, chronic headaches and similar conditions can also benefit from cranial osteopathy treatments.

Is it safe?
You may have worries and concerns about babies or young children being treated by osteopaths, but you can be reassured; cranial osteopathy uses a very gentle and safe approach. The treatment is used to assist what already exists in the body, helping to release the changed stresses and tension build up. As the treatment has a generally cumulative effect, a series of sessions may be of increasing benefit. Very occasionally some children may show increased restlessness following treatment, for up to 48 hours; this then settles spontaneously.








Article 3 : Families SW (London) Magazine “ Cranial Osteopathy – why it treats children and not diseases “


Cranial Osteopathy for Babies and Children*

Cranial Osteopathy – why it treats children and not diseases

Glue ear, colic, autism, reflux, ADHD, asthma, eczema, sleeping problems and delayed development; these are just a few of the problems that parents bring their children to see me for.

By Leo Meyer

Children often come with a medical diagnosis, which is then used as a basis for treatment, targeted at the specific manifestation of disease. Thus in the case of asthma, inhalers will be prescribed. If glue ear is diagnosed and does not self-resolve or respond to antibiotics, grommets will be inserted and adenoids removed. This approach can reduce symptoms and in some instances actually save lives.
However from an Osteopathic perspective, what needs treatment is not the disease process, which is just a manifestation of imbalance within the body, but the root of the imbalance itself. In fact when parents bring in their children with a specific problem, there are virtually always a number of other symptoms that are revealed in the consultation. As a result of treatment these apparently unrelated problems clear up alongside the reason for seeking treatment. This is because all symptoms are just different manifestations of the underlying problem. The job of the Cranial Osteopath is to treat the underlying pattern and improve the child’s overall health.
Conventional medicine, because it treats symptoms and not the person, makes no attempt to discover the actual cause or causes of disease for that child i.e. why a child and not a sibling developed asthma at a specific time in their life. The answer lies inside the child, and in the way he/she interacts physically and emotionally with the world. This will be a result of inherited genes, as well as environmental influences from the moment of conception through pregnancy, birth and childhood. The Cranial Osteopath, by careful case history taking and the ability to feel a child’s state of health including the impact of stresses and traumas, can build up a picture of the underlying causes of ill health. By addressing them, not only will symptoms decrease or disappear but also the child will move to a greater state of health and vitality. The following case history shows how important it is to find the root cause in each individual and not simply accept a symptom-led diagnosis.
George, aged 4 was brought to see me, suffering from a variety of developmental and behavioural problems. He suffered from delayed speech and comprehension, was behind in motor development and did not interact easily with other children. He also had very poor sleep, and snored. These problems had become apparent over the preceeding few years. He had had to be withdrawn from mainstream nursery and after a number of assessments a diagnosis of Asbergers Syndrome (a mild form of autism) had been made. His parents however were not convinced by the diagnosis and felt that for the sake of convenience doctors had attached a label to him. His treatment consisted of speech therapy and attendance at a special nursery.
His medical history was unremarkable with a straightforward pregnancy and birth, and a problem free first 18 months of life. However from about 20 months he suffered very badly from tonsillitis, chest infections and glue ear. He was on repeated courses of antibiotics.
When I came to examine him the two principle findings were a strong sense of irritability in his body as well as a very tight chest and head with resulting poor drainage and immune function. This explained his susceptibility to tonsillitis, chest and ear infections as well as his snoring. Indeed initially, I felt glue ear might have been an important contributing factor as it can often cause delayed speech and understanding, poor social interaction and is associated with repeated coughs and colds I began a series of treatments and he progressed well. He gradually became calmer, his sleep improved, he began interacting more with other children and both his speech and understanding made significant strides. Indeed in some areas of development he became age appropriate.
However on his sixth visit I became aware through treatment that his digestive system was extremely irritable. His parents confirmed that he suffered from frequent bouts of diarrhoea. It is being increasingly accepted that there is a close link between digestion and brain function and I felt that his diarrhoea could be the root cause of the problem. It had probably been caused by the multiple courses of anti-biotics that he had taken.
I therefore suggested that he should go on a special diet that had helped children with similar problems before. The results were astounding, not only did his diarrhoea clear up but his language skills improved dramatically and he became a much happier, more well balanced child.
Leo Meyer, MA (Hons), DO is a Cranial Osteopath with a special interest in the treatment of babies and children. He worked for three years at the Osteopathic Centre for Children in Harley Street and currently practices in Clapham and Chelsea.Leo Meyer MA(Hons) DO has practices in Clapham and Chelsea. He also works at the Osteopathic Centre for Children in Harley St.

–Published by Families SW (London) Magazine–

By |2012-05-25T00:47:11-05:00May 25th, 2012|Chiropractic, Osteopathy|0 Comments

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