Osteopathy: The Surprising Form of Relief for Digestive Issues

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Osteopathy: The Surprising Form of Relief for Digestive Issues

Age is not a factor when it comes to individuals being prone to digestive issues. Whether you’re an adult who is suffering or have a baby or child in your care showing signs of discomfort, problems that stem from the stomach can cause major disruption to daily life.

Bloating, reflux, constipation, diarrhea, cramps, colic and indigestion are just a few of the symptoms that are associated with gastrointestinal ailments. Some turn to over the counter medications, while others follow a more holistic approach. Eating mindfully, getting enough fiber, staying hydrated, managing your stress and getting exercise- the advice you get is usually all the same. However, many are surprised when it is suggested they see an osteopath.  

The following explains how osteopathy can benefit a person of any age with their digestive problems.

Babies & Children

Being a parent is hard.  Maybe you are experiencing the newborn stage for the first time, or you’re a seasoned veteran to the parenting world. Each baby is different and comes with their own set of challenges. Such as but not limited to breathing/chest problems, breastfeeding difficulties, birth trauma, congestion, eczema, ear infections, flat head syndrome to name a few.

When it comes to the digestive issues you hear about the most when it comes to babies, they would have to be colic, constipation, wind, and reflux. Osteopathy can in fact help with all of these! At a time in their lives when they are unable to use words to describe their pain, constant crying and signs of discomfort may be just enough to make you set an appointment with a trusted osteopath. Allow them to provide you with helpful information from their assessment and see what your options are! 

Many parents believe that osteopathy would involve too much pressure and perhaps be too “harsh” on their babies. This is far from the case. The cranial approach to treatment that is usually used for babies works to encourage the tissues to ease and release themselves rather than applying force. 

“While some loud cracking sounds are sometimes heard in adult osteopathic sessions, there is nothing like this when it comes to babies: the manipulations are very gentle and delicate, and totally painless. Very often, babies relax completely and may even fall asleep during the session!” -via Mustela

Older Children

As children get older, it is possible that they will grow out of certain digestive issues, but some may continue to follow them as they age. Chronic illnesses can be even harder to handle with the coming of new milestones.  

For example, when they reach the ages of 3 or 4, and later when they are 8 and 12, as these are the prime ages to having growing pains. It can also be used for growth and postural issues, headaches, joint pain, respiratory problems and much more.

This goes to show that while Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment is beneficial for the digestive needs of older children, it also aids with even more concerns.


For adults who have possibly experienced years of their chronic illnesses/problems concerning digestion, they may feel like they have tried everything. Getting evaluated by an osteopath is often overlooked and it may be the treatment they’ve been searching for.

“Digestive problems can be the direct result of problems in the musculoskeletal system such as tight abdominal muscles, restrictions in spinal joints, interrupted nerve or blood supply and organ restrictions. These musculoskeletal problems can be caused by pregnancy, abdominal surgery, falls, injury and trauma to the pelvis, back or ribs.” -via Vibe Natural Health

While the issues may be caused by the musculoskeletal system, there are many other possibilities as to what causes adults to suffer. Sensitivities to certain foods, or lactose intolerance, a poor diet, Crohn’s Disease, and many others. However, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), is the most common. According to aboutibs.org, in the U.S alone, between 2.4 and 3.5 million annual physician visits are dedicated to those suffering from IBS. While studies in Canada showed a lifetime risk for a Canadian to develop IBS is 30%.

Findings from a study done by Luca Collebrusco and Rita Lombardini concluded that, “Combining OMT with appropriate nutrition appears to be an optimal approach and might rep- resent a promising strategy. Although this therapeutic plan may not be ideal for everyone, most patients could well benefit from its use.” Indeed, this is merely one example of how osteopathic practices can be beneficial to adults suffering from similar ailments.

Overall, while many people may remain skeptical when it comes to the benefits of osteopathy, it truly is worth trying at least once. The more times you go the better the results will be, so give it a chance to help you, your baby, or your child’s stomach get some relief .

By Joanna Ahti