Osteopathic Manipulative Treatments
Osteopathic Manipulative Treatments
What is Osteopathic Medicine?
Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.s) represent a separate, yet equal branch of American Medical Care. D.O.s and are fully licensed physicians and surgeons with equal rights of M.D.s including prescribing medications. D.O.s practice “whole person” approach to medicine. Instead of just treating specific symptoms or illnesses, they regard your body as an integrated whole. Mind, body, and spirit. They have a focus on preventative health care. D.O.s receive extra training in the musculoskeletal system – your body’s interconnected system of nerves, muscles and bones that make up two-thirds of your body’s mass. This training provides Osteopathic Physicians with a better understanding of the ways that an injury or illness in one part of the body can affect another. Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) is incorporated in the training and practice of Osteopathic Physicians. With OMT, Osteopathic Physicians use their hands to diagnose injury and illness, and to encourage your body’s natural tendency toward good health and healing.
Often, when people hear about osteopathic manipulation, they compare it to chiropractic adjustments or massage therapy. In reality, osteopathic manipulation is different from both of these types of manual therapy for a number of reasons. One primary difference between osteopathic manipulation and other forms of therapy is that only the osteopathic physician has the training to apply the underlying philosophy of osteopathic health care with comprehensive medical training in all systems of the body. Osteopathic physicians know that structure influences function, so they look for areas of the body where the structure may be altered and made more normal through manipulation in order to improve function to a particular body region, which then influences the entire body. Osteopathic physicians believe that the body has innate self-healing mechanisms that are key to restoring well-being and maintaining health, and that the physician’s job is to provide the proper supportive therapy or preventive measure to help the person return to health or to maintain health. D.O.s are trained that rational patient care is based on integration of these principles.
OMT can be applied to every area of the body to help promote this self-healing process. Many people often assume that it is useful only for musculoskeletal complaints such as low back pain. On the contrary, osteopathic manipulation may be used to treat a wide range of conditions including but not limited to gastrointestinal, respiratory, hormonal, neurological and immunological.
When employing osteopathic manipulation, D.O.s use a variety of techniques that can be placed into some broader categories. Some of those categories include high velocity, low amplitude thrust techniques, which people generally associate with popping noises; muscle energy, where the physician uses techniques that requires the patient to contract his/her muscles in a very specific way to relieve muscle tightness and joint restriction; strain-counterstrain where the physician moves the patient into a position where localized painful spots are relieved; and myofascial release, where gentle forces are applied to by the physician’s hands to a region of the body to decrease neurologically mediated tightness to any structure of the body and cranial manipulations, when a very gentle manipulative pressure on the head is used to restore the alignment of the cranial bones and to encourage the release of stresses throughout the body, including the head. Prior to the treatment, a D.O. would perform and extensive osteopathic examination that usually lasts at least half-an-hour and involves visual and palpatory diagnostic approach. The treatment itself would last from a half-an-hour to an hour and would engage the whole body and not just a separate part of it that is in pain or dysfunction.