Life within any living being is actively seeking the most optimal state of balanced freedom that can be achieved at any given moment. Osteopathic treatment addresses living anatomy expressing physiologic function.
The goal of any osteopathic treatment is to look for a more efficient and effective way to bring about HEALTH, an optimal state of balanced freedom, in the patient.
When putting my hands on the patient, I am in contact not only with anatomy, but also with function and, most importantly, the therapeutic force of health which directs the treatment.
A DO, or osteopathic physician, is a fully licensed physician able to practice the full scope of medicine within her/his specialty training (e.g., family medicine, pediatrics, cardiology, neurology, etc.).
DOs medical training includes the same four-year curriculum of basic sciences and clinical medicine as an MD (allopathic physician); however, osteopathic medical students also complete over 500 additional hours of training in manual medicine, osteopathic principles and practices, and anatomy. Although all DOs are trained in basic osteopathic principles and practices, not all DOs go on to use OMT regularly.
Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) is the therapeutic application of manually (hands-on) guided forces by an osteopathic physician. OMT is intended to address restrictions of the tissues, fluids, organs, bones, muscles, and physiologic systems of the body. Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) is the application of osteopathic philosophy, structural diagnosis, and the use of OMT in the diagnosis and management of a patient.
DOs who practice with OMT use a highly trained sense of touch to feel subtle changes in tension and tissue quality throughout the whole body and to diagnose and treat areas of strain or dysfunction. Osteopathic practitioners can feel areas in the body that have been affected by past events, including old injuries, accidents, trauma, and/or illness. The body often learns to compensate for these past traumas and injuries, which can lead to current symptom expression (e.g., pain, loss of function, poor healing, etc.) days, weeks, months, or years beyond when the initial event occurred.
Diagnosis and treatment are linked as the osteopathic practitioner works to activate the body’s innate ability to heal by providing gentle and targeted support where needed to return the tissues to a state of balance and allow the body to release strain, trauma, and dysfunction, thereby restoring the system back to health.
Osteopathic medicine was founded by a frontier physician, Andrew Taylor Still, MD. Dr. Still practiced medicine during the time of the Civil War in the mid-1860s. He not only experienced first-hand the tragedies of Civil War-era military medicine, but also suffered a significant personal tragedy when he lost three of his children to spinal meningitis.
After that time, he sought a more effective system of healing and founded Osteopathy on the principle that the best way to fight disease and illness is to naturally stimulate the body’s immune system and innate capacity to heal. He looked to the relationship between structures in the musculoskeletal system, circulatory system, nervous system, lymphatic system, etc., and the function of the body in health and disease.
He argued that a well-designed manipulative treatment often will remove impediments to motion and function and that this approach should be used before deciding that the body has failed in its own efforts and thus resort too early to medications or surgery.
Almost any condition, disease process, illness or injury can benefit from an osteopathic treatment, as the goal of any treatment is to support the body’s innate healing process. For a more specific list, please see: What We Can Treat with OMT page