Osteopathy in Pregnancy and for Children
Before explaining the Osteopathic approach to treating babies and children and during pregnancy and infancy, it must be stressed that there is currently little research that can confirm the effectiveness of the treatment, especially in the case of babies. This is largely because of the difficulty in designing experiments that can accurately measure results in subjects who have yet to develop clear communication skills.
Osteopathy is increasingly being sought as a treatment for pregnancy related complaints and for babies and children. Osteopaths receive both a theoretical and practical grounding in treating these areas. At the European school of osteopathy students receive two years tuition and one year of clinical experience treating infants, toddlers and assisting during pregnancy, which is compulsory and examined. The course content includes disorders of pregnancy and infancy as well as providing understanding of the birth process and its effect on mother and child.
Osteopaths have a thorough training in the anatomy and biomechanics of the body, which can be usefully applied to the changes that occur in pregnancy to weight-bearing and body mechanics. They are also taught in detail about foetal and child development.
Methods of treatment vary, and osteopaths have a wide range of tools that can be effectively adapted for these cases, and safely and considerately applied. Many practitioners favour using cranial and functional techniques for children and pregnancy, but there is a great variety of safe approaches. Because osteopaths understand anatomy and the process of human development, many patients report that pregnancy and birth related complaints have responded well to treatment. It can be particularly useful to go to an osteopath who specialises in treating pregnant women and children.
Evidence based treatments
Again it needs to be stressed that although many patients find benefit, evidence for the effectiveness of these treatments has not been thoroughly assessed. The following table shows the level of evidence for the various conditions most often treated.
|Treatment||Level of evidence|
|Pregnancy related pelvic or back pain||Good|
|Back/shoulder/neck pain related to feeding position||Good|
|Pregnancy related sciatica||Moderate|
|Colic like symptoms in babies||Untested|
|Childhood complaints related to sports or trauma||Good|
|Childhood headaches or back pain||Good|
Good – strong statistical evidence to suggest that techniques used by Osteopaths can be effective in these conditions – the evidence does not relate specifically to age or pregnancy
Moderate – less strong statistical evidence to suggest that techniques used by Osteopaths can be effective in these conditions – the evidence does not relate specifically to age or pregnancy
Untested – scientific testing of good quality has not been carried out that can confirm or refute effectiveness of these techniques