[Cranial osteopathy as a complementary treatment of postural plagiocephaly]

Arch Pediatr. 2008 Jun;15 Suppl 1:S24-30. doi: 10.1016/S0929-693X(08)73944-7.
[Article in French]


For the majority of neonates and young infants, appropriate postures and standard physiotherapy succeed in preventing or correcting acquired cranial deformations (fetal due to restricted mobility in utero or postnatal secondary to exclusive dorsal decubitus). However in some cases, when postural management is not efficient, pediatricians will be asked by the parents about the potential benefits of osteopathy. What is osteopathic treatment? At first, diagnostic palpation will identify which suture is normally mobile with the respiratory cycle, and which has limited or absent mobility secondary to abnormal postures. Later on, the goal of the therapeutic phase is to mobilise impaired sutures, by various gentle maneuvers depending on the topography of the impairment. The treatment is not restricted to the skull but extended to the spine, pelvis and lower extremities which contribute to the deformative sequence. Osteopathic treatment belongs to complementary medicine, therefore demonstration of its scientific value and favorable results have to be provided. Based on randomized studies, the answer is yes, it significantly decreases the degree of asymmetry. Do postural deformations matter to the development of an healthy infant? It seems that the prejudice is not only esthetic but also functional, however more research is necessary. In conclusion, pediatricians should be more aware of the method and expectations: major deformative sequence since birth and increasing deformations despite preventive postures and standard physiotherapy are reasonable indications for such complementary treatment. "Preventive" osteopathy in maternity is not justified. Moreover osteopathy has no place in the treatment of craniosynostosis ; the latter belong to malformations, completely distinct from postural deformations.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Cranial Sutures / anatomy & histology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Manipulation, Osteopathic*
  • Plagiocephaly, Nonsynostotic / therapy*