What Is Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment?

April 19, 2019

Male doctor performing Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment on female patient
Erin Ollila

Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) is an important medical technique that helps to alleviate many symptoms, including back pain, carpal tunnel, migraines and more. But, what exactly is it and who performs it? If this type of treatment has been recommended to you by a friend, family member or even your primary care practitioner, you may have a lot of questions. Don't put off booking a session if you're in need of some relief. Use this guide to help you understand what it is, who performs it and what types of pain it can help alleviate.

What Is Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment?

The American Osteopathic Association defines Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment as "a set of hands-on techniques used by osteopathic physicians (DOs) to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness or injury. Using OMT, a DO moves a patient's muscles and joints using techniques that include stretching, gentle pressure and resistance."

Cleveland Clinic goes on to describe OMT by saying, "Osteopathic medicine focuses on the total person, with an appreciation for the interrelationship of the various systems of the body to maintain health, and to prevent illness and disease." They also report that it is the fastest growing specialty in the United States.

OMT can be added to an individual's treatment plan as a standalone treatment or it can be used alongside other methods of healing, such as medication or surgery.

What Type of Conditions Benefit From OMT?

OMT can help a wide variety of conditions. It's used to help relieve pain, increase mobility and encourage healing of the musculoskeletal system. Common concerns addressed with OMT include neck pain and lower back pain. Sports-related and stress-related injuries also benefit from this type of treatment. In addition, many doctors of osteopathy find it helpful for managing and treating other conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, migraines, asthma and menstrual pain.

Cleveland Clinic reports that "DOs believe structural problems in the spinal column can affect the nerves that radiate out to the various organs, thus causing disease," which is why this manipulative treatment is so important to fix current issues and avoid any more potential future medical problems.

While chiropractors also focus on the musculoskeletal system and spend time doing spine adjustments for their patients, they differ from DOs in the type of education they received — chiropractors often attend four years of undergrad study and five years of chiropractic college. Chiropractors are also not able to perform surgery or prescribe medicine, while a doctor of osteopathy can.

What Type of Experience Do Practitioners Have?

OMT practitioners are doctors with specialized training in the field of osteopathy. Doctors of osteopathy attend a four-year undergraduate program, followed by four years of medical school, and at minimum three years of residency training. Their specialized training is in the musculoskeletal system, which is the intricate system of bones, muscles and nerves in a person's body. DOs learn how each of these systems function as separate entities, as well as how they are interconnected.

Once their training is complete, osteopathic physicians are able to use their hands as tools to diagnose and treat illness and injury. And, OMT isn't simply for pain relief. It can be used as a preventative measure as well.

There's no need to wonder, "What is Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment?" any longer. Now that you know the basics, take the initiative to find a doctor in your area who can help treat the symptoms you've been experiencing. There's no need to suffer any longer.

Sign Up to Receive Our Newsletter & Get the Best Ergonomic Tips