Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) is a form of hands on manual treatment that is used to eliminate or alleviate somatic (bodily) dysfunctions in the body. These dysfunctions are impaired or altered functions of related components of the body’s framework that includes skeletal, joints and myofascial structures, related vascular, lymphatic and neural elements. Stretching, resistance, and gentle pressure work together to promote healing, reduce tension, recover from surgery, lower stress levels, increase mobility, and decrease inflammation.
Articulation – a low velocity/moderate to-high amplitude technique, in which a joint is carried through its full range of motion. The end goal is to increase the range of motion of joint.
Counterstrain – technique in which dysfunction is caused by inappropriate strain reflex. This is inhibited by applying a position of mild strain in the in the direction exactly opposite to the strain reflex. The technique is accomplished by specific directed positioning about the tender point.
Muscle energy – a technique in which the patient voluntarily moves the body as directed by the physician. This patient directed action is from a controlled position (that is engaged by the physician) and against a defined resistance by the physician.
Myofascial release – can be direct (against the resistive barrier) or indirect (towards the resistive barrier). This technique engages continual palpatory feedback through physician’s hand to achieve the release of tissues.
Soft tissue techniques – directed against skeletal muscles and joint abnormalities.
Osteopathic manipulative treatment was first developed by Andrew Taylor Still in 1874. Dr. Still avoided the use of liberal drugs and searched for alternative treatments instead. He believed that as a physician, his role was to facilitate the inherent ability of the body to heal itself. He developed Osteopathic manipulative treatment and a philosophy of medicine based on his experience
Health care providers that use manual medicine and manual therapy include Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O), Medical Doctor (M.D), Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C), Physical Therapist (P.T) and individuals that train in massage. Individuals who hold the Degree of D.O or M.D are able to include Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine along with prescriptions of medication and surgery. This integration of various techniques is unavailable for individuals who hold the D.C or P.T degrees.
If you are suffering from chronic back pain, headaches, sinus congestion etc, adding OMT as an adjunct to current treatment can help with symptom and pain relief.
Somatic dysfunction is diagnosed using four different criteria; tissue texture abnormality, asymmetry, restriction in motion and tenderness. A structural exam is used to diagnose identify the exact location of dysfunction. Screening tests such as a gait exam and postural exam are also used. There are different screening tests for different areas of the body.
Each treatment plan depends on patient preference, physician skills, history and exam findings. Additionally, braces, thermal therapy and home exercises can also be used to complement OMT.
The technique of OMT itself is painless, although sometimes after manipulation soreness can occur. Heat packs can be applied for 20-30min, before or after treatment to reduce stiffness and ache.