Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment

OMT is a hands-on practice employed by a trained osteopathic physician to find where the body is healthy and then to work with the body in the process of restoring health to the areas that are dysfunctional. Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment is based on the concept that the structure and the function of the human body are integrally and reciprocally related.

The goal of Osteopathic treatment is to restore and/or improve the body’s natural structure, and thereby enable the body to function normally and naturally. Osteopathic philosophy also supports integrative care and the promotion of good health.  

OMT is based on the following Principles:

  • The body is a unit.
  • Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated.
  • The body possesses self-regulatory mechanisms.
  • The body has the inherent capacity to defend and repair itself.
  • When the normal adaptability is disrupted, or when environmental changes overcome the body’s capacity for self-maintenance, disease may ensue.
  • Rational treatment is based on the previous principles.
  • The movement of body fluids is essential to the maintenance of health.
  • The nerves play a crucial part in controlling the fluids of the body.
  • There are somatic components to disease that are not only manifestations of disease, but also factors that contribute to maintenance of the disease state.

What Disorders can OMT Potentially help? 

Osteopathy is a systematic approach, applied on an individual basis to identify and to promote good health and to treat somatic dysfunctional states, not simply to be a “one size fits all” approach. The applications of OMT are varied. Often, patients will seek osteopathic care for aches, pains, strains, headaches, and other common musculoskeletal problems. However, several additional health problems have been successfully addressed with osteopathic manipulation, especially when combined with osteopathic principles. Studies have shown positive effects with the following conditions : 

  • • Asthma
  • • Autism
  • • Bell's palsy
  • • Degenerative disc and joint disease 
  • • Ear infections
  • • Epilepsy
  • • Fibromyalgia 
  • • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • • Reflux
  • • Tendonitis
  • • TMJ 

What is the Treatment Approach of OMT?

The osteopathic physician’s goal is primarily to assess the areas where the body is healthy (normal structure and function), then to reduce or resolve the areas where there is somatic dysfunction. The physician will ask questions; obtain a history; perform a physical examination, mostly through observation and palpation to look for abnormalities such as tenderness, asymmetry, restricted range of motion and abnormal changes in the muscles, joints, bones, connective tissue, etc. Techniques range from a very light touch to more increased pressure. The techniques of treatment include but are not limited to the following: soft tissue stretching, “fascial release”, localized isometric contraction-relaxation (“muscle energy”), positional or facilitative relaxation (“counterstain” and “balanced ligamentous tension”) and gentle techniques to balance cranial motion (“cranial osteopathy”). Other recommendations may be given to help the dysfunction, such as diet, exercise, or stretching regimens.

What are the Benefits of OMT?

The benefits of OMT may include an increase in range of motion, the restoration of function, the reduction of pain or painful spasm and an enhanced immune system to prevent further illness. Several patients have reported a sense of deep relaxation or restfulness during and following treatment. As true for most forms of medical treatment, the results are varied and no specific results can be guaranteed.

What are the Potential Risks and Adverse Effects of OMT? 

OMT is considered one of the safest and most non-invasive forms of medical treatment. Patients rarely experience adverse effects. In the rare instances where side effects have been reported, most have been attributed to the use of forceful types of manipulation, such as “cracking,” “popping” or other forceful high velocity type techniques. Nevertheless, for purposes of disclosure, the following side effects have been reported from all forms of manual medicine:

  • Worse pain after treatment, numbness or weakness
  • Fractures (broken bones)
  • Spread of pre-existing conditions such as undetected cancer
  • Breaking loose of blood clots,
  • Stroke
  • Tears in blood vessels 

Although the above-listed complications are rare, patients should be made aware of the complications and some may be serious. Utilizing gentle techniques further reduces the occurrences of these rare complications. In more common cases, patients may experience mild muscle soreness, fatigue, or tenderness, similar to excessive sports activities or flu-like symptoms. This reaction to treatment usually resolves within a few days

What are the Contraindications to OMT?

Vigorous types of manipulation (for example, thrust-type maneuvers) should be generally avoided for certain conditions, such as malignant disease (e.g. bone cancer), bone or joint infection, or severe osteoporosis, as it could cause trauma to bones, joints, or internal organs. Otherwise, almost any person can potentially benefit from osteopathic evaluation and treatment.