ID-10063986Osteopathy for Children

Because of the wide variety of techniques available to Osteopaths, and the gentle and non-invasive nature of many Osteopathic methods, Osteopathy has shown itself over the years to be very suited to the treatment of children. Many Osteopathic schools all over the world run children's clinics, and in Australia there are a number of Osteopaths who have completed Masters degree courses in paediatric Osteopathy. Many people might not immediately think of children as needing Osteopathic treatment, but Osteopathy can benefit children at all three major stages of their development.

Early Infancy

Even in the very earliest days of life, Osteopathy can have benefits. "Cranial" Osteopathic techniques, involving very light and gentle mobilisation of the individual skull bones, are used in cases such as those involving compression moulding of the skull due to birth trauma or forceps compression. "Cranial" techniques can be applied not just to the skull, but also throughout the body, and gentle work to release tensions in the gut can be of great value in the treatment of disorders such as infant colic and frequent or projectile vomiting. Disturbed sleep patterns may also respond well to treatment - indeed babies are often known to fall asleep during cranial treatments! Further research is required to establish the efficacy of Osteopathy in other infant conditions, but a number of interesting results have been reported.

From Toddler to Puberty

Generally, kids are very supple and resilient, but playground falls, bangs on the head, and rollerblade and bicycle accidents all take their toll. If children complain of persistent pains in joints and muscles with no obvious cause, a visit to the Osteopath may be indicated. Treatment for children of this age again uses the most gentle and non-invasive techniques such as cranial work, functional, counterstrain and light soft tissue techniques.

Manipulation is generally not used with younger children. Osteopathy may also be of value, when used in conjunction with appropriate medical management, in helping to improve respiratory function in asthmatic children. In this age range, Osteopaths can also provide valuable advice on the choice of pushers, car safety seats, foot wear etc., in order to reduce the risk of future problems.

Puberty Onwards

During the rapid growth phase around puberty and in the early teens, many developmental problems can begin to manifest themselves in the musculo-skeletal structure, such as the onset of juvenile scoliosis (lateral curvature of the spine.) The changes in ligaments that accompany rapid growth can also contribute to a degree of joint instability. Add into this the typical effects of strain injuries from high impact or high risk sports, and the development, in the teens, of postural bad habits, and you can easily see why many adult musculo-skeletal problems have their origin in the teenage years.

Osteopathic treatment during this time therefore has two functions - helping to give immediate relief for injuries, aches and pains, but also helping to ensure, by careful monitoring, that juvenile development is not impaired, and that problems are not "stored up" for the future. In addition to the techniques used with younger children, low force manipulations may be used with the older age groups if they are appropriate and can be safely used.

Osteopathy - Treatment for the Whole Family

Just as people have a family Doctor, who may care for children throughout their growth and development, so too do many people have a family Osteopath. Osteopathic checking and monitoring of childhood development is one of the best ways of reducing the risk of musculo-skeletal and other problems going undetected and causing difficulties later in life. Prevention is always better than cure, and Osteopathic treatment for children can play just as big a part as dental and eye checks in maintaining the exuberant good health that should be an integral part of growing up.


Courtesy of the AOA


What is asthma?

Asthma is a common and sometimes debilitating respiratory disorder which can affect people of all ages. About one in ten Australians suffer from asthma at some time during their lives. 
Sufferers may occasionally experience difficulty in breathing, accompanied by a wheeze and a tight, restricted chest. Other symptoms may include coughing, vomiting and shaking.

What is the difference between allergic and non-allergic asthma?

There are two different types of asthma: allergic and non-allergic. In allergic asthma, symptoms are usually the result of inhaling or consuming some kind of external substance such as pollen, dust mites, mould, wheat or dairy produce.

Non-allergic asthma can be triggered by a range of different factors, including fatigue, physical exertion, some medications, stress or exposure to environments which are cold and damp. 

What happens to the body during an asthma attack?

Asthma is basically a breathing problem resulting from increased sensitivity of the airways which is provoked by a range of stimuli or 'triggers'. The bronchial spasm, or narrowing of the airways, is recurrent and reversible.

When an asthma attack starts, the muscle layer within the airway wall contracts and the lining of the airway swells, causing the airways to narrow and mucous to be secreted into the airway. As a result, it is more difficult for air to flow in and out of the lungs and breathing becomes difficult. The 'wheezing' sound of asthma is caused by the noise of air passing through the narrow, swollen airways. In very severe cases, so little air is being moved in and out that almost no sound is audible.

In addition, an irritating cough is often present. Sometimes a small amount of thick, stringy phlegm (mucous) is produced. If the attack is severe, the airways become very narrow and the diaphragm, which is the main breathing muscle, has to call on the rib, neck and abdominal muscles to help. This results in more energy being used and causes severe breathlessness and can lead to exhaustion.

As with many conditions, asthmatics react differently to attacks. Some may become very quiet or subdued as they concentrate on their breathing, while others may be obviously distressed and breathless, with a pronounced wheeze.

How can osteopathy help someone with asthma?

Osteopathy offers assistance to sufferers by working on all aspects of the breathing mechanism, including the:

  • ribs

  • spine

  • diaphragm and other muscles of breathing

  • nerve control of the chest

  • blood and fluid supply to the bronchii and lungs


Osteopathy can also play an important preventative role in the care of someone who is suffering from asthma.

Does osteopathy replace conventional medical treatment?

No. Osteopaths recognise the important role of anti-inflammatory medication, antibiotics and bronchiodilators in the treatment of asthma, especially in acute attacks.

Osteopaths work in conjunction with other health care professionals with the long-term aim of decreasing the patient's dependence on their medication. Osteopaths recognise that the functions of the human body are inherently linked and can effect each other.

With this in mind, the osteopath gently works with the body's structure, to enhance and improve the mechanics of breathing by:

  • freeing restrictions of the chest and ribs

  • relaxing the respiratory muscles

  • improving lymphatic drainage from the lungs and airways

  • enhancing the blood supply to the chest region

Other areas of management include the formulation of an individual exercise program, with emphasis on breathing exercises and the avoidance of aggravating factors. The osteopath also provides advice on diet, posture, lifestyle and first aid measures during an attack.

Why is osteopathy so special?

The wholistic approach of osteopathy encompasses all functions and influences including the body, emotions, mind and spirit.

Before any treatment is begun, an osteopath always conducts a full examination, using conventional medical tests where necessary. During the consultation the osteopath will talk with the patient and collate a full case history, taking note of previous accidents, illnesses, operations, dental work and any other factors which may contribute to reduced health.

During physical examination, the osteopath uses sensitive palpatory skills, to gently identify where a patient's structure has been disturbed. As part of this process, the osteopath will assess whether osteopathic treatment is the best option, or whether the patient should be referred to another practitioner. Sometimes a combination of osteopathy and other treatment may be recommended. Osteopathy can also assist in the prevention of health problems, helping people of all ages to achieve an ultimate level of health and wellbeing.

What kind of treatment does an osteopath provide?

Osteopathic treatment involves manual techniques including soft tissue stretching and massage, along with articulation and mobilisation of the joints. The treatment is gentle and conducted with the patient's assistance.

This type of treatment is designed to improve blood circulation, lymphatic drainage and general fluid flow throughout the body, while helping to alleviate disruptive influences on the nervous system and improving overall body mobility.



Courtesy of the AOA 



Osteopathy for Seniors




The Effects of Ageing


In life, ageing is a natural physiological process. One part of the body, which is greatly affected by the process of ageing, is the musculo-skeletal system. As we get older, the elasticity present within our body deteriorates and thus increases the chance of injuring the soft tissues and bony structures of the body.

The effects of ageing on the body's structure gives rise to symptoms such as:

  • generalised, early morning stiffness

  • lower back pain and stiffness

  • neck pain and arm pain

  • hip pain

  • arthritis and joint swelling

Arthritis can be broadly divided into two types:

  • degenerative (osteoarthritis)

  • inflammatory (rheumatoid)

It is common for people 55+ to suffer the effects of osteoarthritis, namely, pain, stiffness and restricted mobility. Osteopathic treatment can be used to relieve these distressing symptoms.

Often when people reach the age where they have more time on their side for recreational activities, it can be disheartening if pain in their body's framework restricts them from enjoying these activities.

Many people mistakenly believe that the effect of ageing on the body's joints is untreatable and have no alternative but to learn to live with their pain. Medications prescribed for these symptoms such as anti-inflammatory drugs can often have undesirable side effects.

Therefore, osteopathic treatment may be very rewarding to patients if their pain can be substantially reduced using the body's natural healing systems.

Osteopaths often work in conjunction with medical practitioners and realise that patients benefit from a more holistic approach to their health management. Osteopaths may well require X-rays or other tests to help them assess whether treatment will be suitable.

What does Osteopathic treatment involve?

Osteopathic treatment involves a variety of manual techniques such as gentle mobilisation of the joints (also known as articulation), soft tissue stretching, indirect release and manipulative techniques. All of the above techniques aim to improve the quality and range of motion in joints throughout the body.

Osteopathic treatment is designed to improve blood circulation, lymphatic drainage and alleviate disruptive influences on the nervous system.

It is particularly suited to the treatment of aged people as these techniques are gentle and non-invasive. Osteopaths use a wide range of techniques that can be adapted to suit the needs of the patient and their specific conditions.

Osteopaths may also offer you advice on exercise to help your particular condition. They will also advise on correct posture and lifting techniques.

Is Osteopathy covered by private health funds?

Yes, osteopathic treatment is covered under the 'extras' scheme by all major funds. Workcover & CTP Insurance also covers osteopathic treatment for their members, by recognised osteopathic providers, however a referral from your general practitioner is necessary.


Courtesy of the Osteopathy Australia


Pregnancy can be remembered as a joyful and exciting time, but for some women, pain, discomfort or illness can darken this picture. Osteopaths can assess and treat many of these complaints which are associated with pregnancy. 

What are the most common complaints associated with pregnancy?

  • lower back pain

  • sciatica (leg pain)

  • neck, shoulder, middle back pain 

Early stages of pregnancy are often associated with symptoms such as nausea, morning sickness, headache, fatigue and dizziness. As the pregnancy progresses, the extra weight creates a shift in the body centre of gravity, combined with softening of muscles and supporting ligaments. This added mechanical stress can cause symptoms such as generalised back pain, sciatica from nerve pressure, pubic symphysis or sacro-iliac joint pain from instability, scoliosis and accentuation of the normal back curves.

Where does osteopathy fit in the picture?

The philosophy of Osteopathy teaches that the body structure and its function are closely related and interdependent. This distinctive way of thinking applies to treatment of almost any injury, condition or change in state of health. Pregnancy is no exception. To accommodate for the growing foetus, the body undergoes tremendous changes. Some are visually obvious; others are subtler as hormonal releases affect the anatomy, physiology and biology of most systems.

The goal of osteopathic treatment is to assist this natural process, maximising the body\'s ability to adjust and to compensate for the changes as efficiently as possible in support of mother and baby with a minimum of pain and discomfort. 

Is it safe to have osteopathic treatment during pregnancy?

Osteopathy has one of the best safety records of any medically related profession. The techniques used during pregnancy are carefully selected in order to minimise the risk. These techniques are gentle and the comfort of the mother is always assured. 

Can osteopathy influence the birth of my baby?

The descent of the baby through the pelvis is determined by factors such as ligament laxity, hormonal control, uterine contraction, gravity and position of the baby. If the mother\'s pelvis is mechanically unstable or is lacking mobility, it may interfere with the baby\'s passage through the birth canal. 

Osteopathic treatment helps to restore balance and improve quality of movements of the whole pelvic girdle, promoting hormonal and neurological feedback, which in turn allows stimulation of the uterine contraction.

Should I still see an osteopath after the birth of my baby?

Yes, for a whole range of reasons. Some start to experience constant back problems or period pain only after the birth. This can be caused by weakened ligaments and lack of muscle strength, thereby weakening the whole structure.

Whilst mothers are breast-feeding, it can be common for them to experience postural strain and pain in the mid to upper spine. Osteopathic treatment to this region can help ease this discomfort as well as promote better blood flow and lymphatic drainage to the breast area.

Your Osteopath can also provide you with advice on posture for breast feeding position, sleep and daily activities, and also exercises to strengthen abdominal muscles and the pelvic floor.

Osteopathic treatment after delivery provides restoration of the normal mechanics of the back and pelvis optimising the body for an active life.


Whether you are a weekend warrior or an elite athlete, your osteopath can assist with prevention of injury as well as treatment of many common sporting injuries. These include:

  • neck and back strains

  • shoulder, elbow and wrist injuries, eg. tennis elbow

  • hip, knee, leg and ankle injuries, eg. shin splints

Ankle and shoulder injuries are very common in amateur and professional sport. These injuries can be poorly treated or not treated at all which can lead to recurrence and early degenerative conditions.

Prevention is definitely better than cure!

Your osteopath can provide a number of stretching exercises and routines that will specifically assist you with avoiding injury through muscle and joint strain. In addition, depending on your sport and individual needs, your osteopath can provide advice on correct diet to assist you in both performance and recovery.

Osteopathic treatment involves manual techniques, including soft tissue stretching, mobilisation and manipulation, which is like a tune up for strained muscles, joints and spine. This creates a positive influence on your circulatory and nervous systems. In turn, this can have a flow on effect to the rest of the body by improving elasticity and mobility. These hands on methods are gentle, safe and effective.

Out of Breath?

Whether you are aware that you suffer from a breathing disorder or not, it is important, particularly in sport, that you ensure your diaphragm is performing optimally and the rib cage mechanics are functioning correctly. This is highlighted when the body is under stress to perform and the respiratory rate is elevated.
Your osteopath can assess your structure and assist in maintaining good breathing function.

What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is manual medicine which aims to maintain the normal balance between all the systems of the body by focusing treatment on musculoskeletal components. Treatment of the muscles, other soft tissues and joints will affect the nervous, circulatory and lymphatic systems of the body. In other words, osteopaths look at the human body as a 'total picture'.

An osteopath works gently with the body's structure to diagnose and treat a wide range of health problems.

Osteopathic Training

Osteopaths are government-registered practitioners of manual medicine. In Australia, there are three undergraduate osteopathic courses which are five years full time. Your nearest Australian Osteopathic Association member can be found under the Osteopaths classification in the Yellow pages in your capital city or by contacting the Association.

Osteopaths around Australia volunteered their time and expertise to help our Paralympic athletes be at their best in the lead up to the 2000 Paralympic Games.


Courtesy of the AOA 

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