The Effectiveness of Osteopathy in Treating Infantile Colic

by admin on January 28, 2012

Infantile colic (also called colic) is a condition that appears in young babies for no apparent reason. The baby shows symptoms of distress such as moaning and crying frequently and for extended periods of time. There may be other symptoms; including pulling feet up to their stomach, flatulence, or a bloated abdomen after feeding. These symptoms typically appear within the first month of life and can disappear suddenly before the baby is 3 or 4 months old but can last for up to a year – see Barr RG. Changing our understanding of infant colic. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2002; 156 (12):1172-74. [PubMed].

Osteopathy is a system of treatment that emphases the relationship between the structure and function of the body and recognizes the body’s ability to heal itself. The osteopath facilitates the process. Some practitioners of osteopathy use a technique called cranial osteopathy or craniosacral therapy. This is where the osteopath applies gentle pressure to parts of the skull and sacrum (a triangular bone at the base of the spine that joins to a hip bone on each side and is part of the pelvis) to help the patient’s body heal itself – see Green, Martin et al. 1999; Lesho 1999; Vickers and Zollman 1999.

In a recent trial ⃰ 2 groups were studied – 1 that was treated with cranial osteopathy and a control group that received no treatment.

In the group that received treatment all babies showed improvement:

  • 4 required no more treatment after week two
  • 6 needed no more treatment after week three
  • The remaining 4 still showed mild symptoms at the end of the study
  • There was a significant reduction in time crying of 1.5 hours during the trial
  • A significant increase in hours of sleep of 1.35 hours from the beginning to the end of the trial
  • The amount of holding a rocking was significantly reduced

In the control group:

  • 2 improved within the first 2 weeks
  • 2 withdrew from the study – 1 due to pneumonia and 1 because of worsening symptoms of colic
  • 1 improved by week 3
  • 4 improved by week4
  • The remaining 5 had continuing symptoms


So, this study shows there is evidence that cranial osteopathy reduces the effects of infantile colic over a 4 week period. These benefits are a reduction in inconsolable crying and an increase in the amount of sleep the baby gets. No adverse effects were observed from the treatment. If your baby has infantile colic then osteopathy can help you and we can offer you a possible cure.
⃰ Trial Reference
Hayden, C. and B. Mullinger (2006). “A preliminary assessment of the impact of cranial
osteopathy for the relief of infantile colic.” Complement Ther Clin Pract 12(2): 83-90.

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