Physician Teaches Parents Osteopathic Techniques
that Soothe Earaches in Children
STRATFORD - It’s late at night and earache pain is keeping your young child from falling asleep. Short of calling a pediatrician’s answering service or a trip to the emergency room, what’s a parent to do?
In his Family Medicine practice in Hainesport, Dr. David Mason, acting chair of the Department of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine, provides an answer. He teaches parents some basic osteopathic positioning and massage techniques that they can use to help relieve earache pain in their young children. The techniques often will provide enough relief to allow the child to rest until a trip to the physician’s office can be arranged.
“The pain of a middle ear infection comes from the fluid that builds up and puts pressure on the tympanic membrane inside the ear,” said Dr. Mason. “Done properly, these techniques will - in a matter of minutes - help the fluid to drain through the child’s Eustachian tubes, reducing pressure and relieving pain. It won’t cure the cause of the infection but it will relieve the acute pain and will also speed the recovery process.”
One of the techniques that Dr. Mason teaches, called the Galbreath technique involves having the child lie down on his or her back. The parent places one hand on the chin, with thumb and forefinger resting along the lower jawbone. The other hand is placed on the forehead to hold the child’s head in place. As the child opens his mouth, the parent gently moves the lower jaw to the side away from the ear that hurts and holds it there for three to five seconds before releasing the jaw. The parent then repeats this maneuver three times.
The auricular drainage technique also requires the child to lie on his or her back, with the parent on the side of the ear that does not hurt. The parent forms a “V” by separating her middle and ring fingers on the hand that is closer to the child’s feet. Placing the ear that hurts in the base of this “V” the parent places his or her other hand on the opposite side of the child’s head to provide support. The parent then gently but firmly massages the infected ear in a clockwise motion, then reverses direction, massaging the infected ear in a counter-clockwise direction.
“Ear infections are one of the most common reasons for physician visits by young children,” Dr. Mason said. “In a small pilot study at our school, we found that osteopathic manipulation, including the Galbreath and auricular drainage techniques, provided almost immediate relief from pain caused by a middle ear infection. If those results can be repeated in larger clinical studies, it could lead to new treatment standards that reduce the use of antibiotics, pain relievers and even surgery in children.”
To request an interview with Dr. Mason, please contact Jerry Carey, UMDNJ News Service, at (856) 566-6171 or (973) 972-3000.
The UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine (www.som.umdnj.edu) is dedicated to providing excellence in medical education, research and health care for New Jersey and the nation. An emphasis on primary health care and community health services reflects the school’s osteopathic philosophy, with centers of excellence that demonstrate its commitment to developing clinically skillful, compassionate and culturally competent physicians from diverse backgrounds, who are prepared to become leaders in their communities.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.