OMT stands for Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy. Clear as mud? OMT is a specialized form of medicine usually performed by physicians who are DOs, or, Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine.
I’m a DO physician. That means I am a fully licensed physician, I completed the same four years of medicine as my MD colleagues and the same three years of residency in Family Medicine. The biggest difference in training was that in addition to typical training, DOs receive specialized training in the musculoskeletal system — your body’s interconnected system of nerves, muscles and bones, and training in osteopathic manipulation. DO physicans can be found in all specialties, but not all DOs choose to continue doing manipulation in their practice.
Getting back to OMT, it is a specialized form of medicine using a set of hands-on techniques to diagnose, treat and prevent illness or injury. These techniques let us apply pressure to certain joints, tissues and bones to release tension, encourage blood flow and promote normal healing. This can range from popping joints, also called “high-velocity, low-amplitude” techniques, to gentle soft tissue and muscle stretching techniques.
Osteopathic medicine was begun in the late 1800s by Dr. A.T. Still MD, DO. Dr. Still believed that by correcting problems in the body's structure, using manual techniques, the body's ability to function and to heal itself could be greatly improved. He also promoted the idea of preventive medicine and endorsed the philosophy that physicians should focus on treating the whole patient, rather than just the disease. Dr. Still began the first osteopathic medical school in Kirksville, Missouri.
The tenants and practices of Dr. Still continue to be taught to medical students today, along with research from numerous other physicians over the past 125 years.
OMT can be used to treat a wide variety of common ailments such as headaches, arthritis, stress injuries, sports injuries and back pain. It can also be beneficial for patients with asthma, carpal tunnel and menstrual pain. Every individual is unique and so each person needs a customized approach. OMT has been shown to be an effective alternative and complement to medication and other therapies.
I love using OMT in my practice. It’s a wonderful appointment for me when the patient comes in for manipulation and I can use my hands to make the patient feel better before they leave my office.