Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine
Osteopathic Manipulation Treatment (OMT) is a system of hands-on techniques using manual pressure designed to evaluate and treat impaired function of the musculoskeletal system. OMT addresses the root biomechanical causes of injuries and conditions to alleviate pain and restore optimal function of the body.
OMT is the cornerstone of osteopathic medicine, treating the patient as a whole rather than treating a series of symptoms. It is effective in treating muscle pain, joint injuries, and fascia dysfunction. Because OMT improves blood flow and opens lymphatic pathways through the body, it also helps to nourish tendons and ligaments, relieves stress, and aids in detoxification.
Several techniques may be used to restore tissue health. A precise amount of manual pressure is gently applied in a specific direction, either directly on the affected areas or at some distance away, relaxing the tissues. to allow restoration of natural function. The physician may also engage the muscles at their functional limit.
- Correct structural and tissue abnormalities (vertebrae, muscles, myofascial structures, etc)
- Relieve joint restriction and misalignment
- Restore muscle and tissue balance
- Promote the movement of bodily fluids
How Does Osteopathic Manipulation Work?
A healthy musculoskeletal system requires normal nerve function and fluids that circulate freely. The body's primary fluid systems include blood, lymph, cerebrospinal systems. These fluids are what carry oxygen, nutrition, enzymes, and hormones to all the cells of your body. Any kind of blockage of the nerves or fluids will result in pain and disease over time.
Structural blockages include damage to bones, tissues, and organs. Non-structural blockages include emotional or mental stress. Either one can impair the musculoskeletal system and cause pain, loss of motion, and illness. Structural blockages can be treated through a variety of techniques.
- Muscle Energy
- Myofascial Release
Optimal muscle function and performance
Skeletal muscles are made up of hundreds or even thousands of muscle fibers that are bundled together and wrapped in a connective tissue. Muscles contract when these string-like structures slide over each other. Sometimes the muscle tissue or the fascia surrounding them becomes restricted. Constrictions in musculoskeletal tissue restrict movement, preventing the muscles from working in a full range of motion and at optimal function. When restrictions occur, other structural areas step in to compensate. The musculoskeletal system no longer functions as it is designed, causing secondary conditions. Removal of structural blockages keeps muscles functioning at their peak both now and in the future.
Osteopathic manipulation and concussions
Cranial Osteopathic Manipulation has been shown to be helpful as an adjunct treatment for athletes suffering a concussion. Concussions are generally caused by forceful impact to the head. The brain is composed of delicate cells & supportive tissue & is surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid that cushions & protects it. Trauma to the head can cause swelling & inflammation that affects brain function.
Cranial Osteopathic Manipulation can help with the production & distribution of cerebrospinal fluid as well as improve circulation to help reduce inflammation. It was once believed that the bones in our skull became fused & immobile with age. Science now shows that these bones retain flexibility & can become compressed or misaligned with injury. By applying gentle pressure, Cranial Osteopathic Manipulation can subtlety urge these bones back into place.
What is fascia and why is it important?
Fascia is a continuous sheath composed of elastin and collagen that extends from head to toe, surrounding every organ, blood vessel, nerve cell, bone, and muscle. This sheath is the basis of a key Osteopathic principle: unity of function. Its purpose is to provide support and reduce friction. Fascia has a large number of nerve endings, which means that it also plays a large role in proprioception and our body’s interpretation of pain.
In health, fluids flow with relative ease from one fascial compartment to the next. When a traumatic injury occurs, the fascia may twist and compress. The exchange of fluid may become compromised, and physiology may be impaired. Degenerative Arthritis is often a result of longstanding traumatic influence and can change the shape of the bones. OMT cannot correct this structural change in the bones, but it can correct the resulting strain in the surrounding soft tissue, restoring some physiologic flexibility to allow the tissues to better negotiate the arthritic changes.
Conditions commonly treated
- Knee pain
- Sprains and strains
- Back and neck pain
- Chronic tendon injuries, such as golfer's elbow and tennis elbow
- Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis
- Shoulder pain, rotator cuff injury, biceps tendoniitis
- Acute muscle and ligament injuries
- Sports injuries
- Plantar tendonitis
Benefits of OMT during pregnancy
During pregnancy, enormous physical, chemical and emotional changes take place over a relatively short period of time. The body has to get used to carrying up to 20+ lb of baby, amniotic fluid, and placenta, causng great physical strain on the back, tissues, joints, and ligaments of the body. In order for the pregnant body to adapt to these changes, it finds new ways to walk, sit, and sleep. Ligaments that support the pelvis and lower back increase in laxity and muscles can weaken causing joint irritation and severe pain.
Back pain during pregnancy may also occur due to hormonal changes or from the body adjusting to a changing center of gravity. As the womb grows larger, the round ligaments, or the thick ligaments supporting the womb, stretch. This strain on the ligaments causes pain in the lower abdomen or groin area. Any sudden movement, such as sneezing or standing up too quickly, can cause spasms that pull on already stressed ligaments.
Research studies show that OMT significantly improves back dysfunction during the third trimester. Osteopathic treatment during pregnancy can ease some of the symptoms typically associated with pregnancy.
- Aches and pains of the back, neck, shoulder area and muscular tension
- Pain in the groin, lower abdomen, or pubic symphysis
- Nausea and vomiting
OMT: Procedure Snapshot
Below is a video that demonstrates the process of OMT in adults and infants.
Adult OMT presented by Michael A. Seffinger, DO, Chair and Associate Professor,
Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine/Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine,
College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific.
Video available at:
We Can Help
To learn more about what we can do to help you, please call our office at 817.416.0970. We will thoroughly diagnose your condition and present you with treatment options. From there we will guide you along your road to recovery.