The following are common questions and answers about osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) and osteopathy. Please contact us with any further questions you may have here.
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.).
A DO’s 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.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.
A Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine (NMM) physician is a DO or MD who has completed a three-year residency training in Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine/Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (NMM/OMM) following her/his medical degree and has become board-certified in this field. While all DOs learn the basics of OMT/OMM, this an NMM physician’s specialty and area of expertise.
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 OMM/OMT.
DOs (Doctors of Osteopathy) are fully licensed physicians and have the scope of a four-year conventional medical training. In addition, DOs also complete a three-to-five-year (or more) residency training in any specialty of her/his choosing.
Chiropractors are licensed to address and treat the spine, whereas DOs are licensed to address and treat the full scope of the patient, including muscles, bones, organ systems, cranium/brain, extremities (arms, legs), nervous system, circulatory system, lymphatics, nervous system, etc.
Many patients may refer to the work we do as craniosacral therapy (CST). Craniosacral therapy (CST) is perhaps a more well-known term; however, there is a difference between cranial osteopathy and craniosacral therapy.
Cranial osteopathy, or osteopathy in the cranial field (OCF), is practiced by a licensed osteopathic physician (DO) or allopathic physician (MD). It is not different from osteopathy and follows all the principles of osteopathic treatment, only it addresses the specific anatomy and physiology of the head.
Craniosacral therapy (CST) is a light-touch form of bodywork that was developed by an osteopathic practitioner for massage therapists and other bodyworkers. There are no national standards or regulations for craniosacral therapists and CST courses can be completed in as few as four days with minimum prerequisites. As such, CST is done by a large variety of practitioners with varying amounts of education and experience. Although CST can be helpful for many people, it is important to understand the limitations of a craniosacral therapist. Craniosacral therapists are not licensed physicians and thus are not able to diagnose and generally have limited, if any, medical backgrounds.