It is not uncommon for practitioners to segment our body into defined and separate elements, rather than organs and systems that are intrinsically linked and working in an integrated way to produce best outcomes. Health practitioners may sometimes be guilty of only focusing on their own area of specialisation rather than learning about how we can provide better care through collaboration with other professionals. The body is not unlike a jigsaw puzzle and there are often many pieces when it comes to resolution of symptoms towards better health.
For the benefit of exploring this subject, I will call osteopathy and chiropractic “craniofacial therapy” because regardless of the modality, it is the activation and rehabilitation of the under or over-active muscles that compensate for tongue tie that are in question as well as restrictions caused by in-uterine/birthing constrictions. Whichever practitioner performs the therapy, it is the same focus on enabling optimal functioning in structures of the head, neck and face.
These articles by Tow and Vallone ; Holleman et al and Miller et al as well as many others demonstrate the potential benefits of chiro/osteo. In summary, the principle is that due to in-uterine and birthing constrictions, there may be areas of the head and neck that are tight and don’t move well affecting the postures and motions of breastfeeding. In addition, if there is a restrictive tongue or lip tie, this will have an effect on compensatory muscles that will also require attention.
Among the more than 2000 families that I have assisted with tongue tie – I have sometimes noted that craniofacial therapy along with good Lactation Consultant support may improve breastfeeding outcomes without the need for surgery. Sometimes this approach only improves things a little or the improvement may not be sustained beyond a couple of days. Such cases are usually indicative that a tongue tie is pulling structures back, leading to incorrect tissue functioning. Where this is the case, surgery to release the tongue tie becomes important in order to address the source of the problem, and craniofacial therapy will support and rehabilitate surrounding structures.
I am not an osteo or chiro. I have nothing personally to gain by encouraging this path but I have amassed significant experience in the benefits of this therapy being conducted prior to surgery. I have consistently observed that after craniofacial therapy, the tissues in the area of treatment (especially the floor of the mouth) feel less restricted and more flexible allowing for better surgical access, and the opportunity for improved surgical outcomes. I also know from my experience that families who approach treatment of breastfeeding challenges with a broad outlook, who are willing to commit to an integrated approach that addresses the close working of many muscles have a much better chance of a sustained result from surgery.
In an emerging area of health care such as the treatment of tongue and lip ties in infants, continuous education and an open mind are critical. I have continued to study the insights and experiences of colleagues internationally many of whom have worked with families with tongue tie for decades. In considering the impressive body of knowledge they have accrued, I find myself in awe of the wisdom and experience of lactation consultants, paediatric dentists, chiropractors, myofunctional therapists, occupational therapists, general dentists, osteopaths, ENTs, and oral surgeons who have been willing to look at the whole picture in formulating treatment paths. This international multidisciplinary collaboration has been critical to the advances we are seeing in the treatment of tongue tie today, and the demonstrable improvements in breastfeeding outcomes being experienced by many families after treatment.
We work closely with other professionals including chiropractors to alleviate some symptoms that are related to airways and tongue tie.
These articles may also be of interest to those who wish to read more.
Chiropractic care of a pediatric patient with symptoms associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease, fuss-cry-irritability with sleep disorder syndrome and irritable infant syndrome of musculoskeletal origin.