Osteopathic manipulative medicine is the keystone treatment that sets osteopathic physicians apart from other doctors. With similarities to chiropractic, physical therapy, and therapeutic massage, osteopathic manipulative medicine is a hands-on approach that involves manually moving, stretching, and adjusting the body to reduce pain and increase mobility.
Osteopathy was developed in the 1870s by Dr. Andrew Still. In the United States, doctors of osteopathy are full medical doctors (D.O.s) - they can prescribe medications and perform surgery. The osteopathic medical view tends to differ slightly from that of an M.D. however, with D.O.s treating the whole person and seeing illness less as an isolated event. Osteopaths believe that the body has an amazing ability to heal itself, if restrictions on movement are removed. With increased motion and circulation will come increased well-being. Osteopathic manipulative medicine aims to free the body to heal itself.
An osteopathic manipulative treatment may involve stretching, gentle pressure, counter pressure, resistance, and craniosacral therapy among others. It may be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent illness or injury. Studies have shown that osteopathic manipulation is particularly effective for back pain, but it may also be used to treat:
Joint pain, such as that due to sports injuries or arthritis
Irritable bowel syndrome
Pain disorders, such as fibromyalgia or chronic pain
Osteopathic manipulative medicine uses healing touch to restore the function of the body’s own structure in order to promote health. It looks at the entire musculoskeletal system to ease limitations that may be causing problems.