Osteopathic Manipulation: Effective for Numerous Health Issues

Osteopathic Manipulation: Effective for Numerous Health Issues

What is the difference between a DO and an MD?

A DO is a doctor of osteopathic medicine. The education process and credentialing for both a DO and an MD are essentially the same. In addition to conventional medical training, a DO also receives “hands-on” training in osteopathic diagnosis and manipulative treatment. This can be considered as an extra tool to treat a patient’s illness.

What is manipulative treatment?

Osteopathic manipulation is hands-on medicine that is used when there is a structural imbalance in the body that can lead to many dysfunctions such as chronic back pain, breathing restrictions, or recurrent sinus infections. It is a whole system of evaluation and treatment designed to achieve and maintain health by restoring normal function to the body. Manipulation is the manual medicine that DOs use to treat the imbalances they find in the body.

What types of manipulation treatment are used?

There are many different types of manipulation, but there are several different common techniques that I use when treating patients, including:

  •  Soft Tissue Manipulation—This approach applies pressure to the muscles and other tissues of the body. It is similar to many aspects of massage therapy.
  •  Muscle Energy Manipulation—With this technique, the patient is directed to use his or her muscles in conjunction with stretching to help achieve balance.
  •  Counterstrain—This technique is used to shorten strained muscle and tissues in an effort to reset them so there is less of a pain response.
  •  High Velocity, Low Amplitude (HVLA)—This is the “cracking” technique that many people are most familiar with. It uses a quick, but small, force to restore balance to an area.

What should I expect from a visit to a DO?

You can expect a routine interview that will consist of typical questions to gain a better understanding of your condition and its onset, triggers, and progression. This is followed by a physical evaluation to assess your posture, spine, and balance and any points of restricted movement. Once your problem is diagnosed and manipulation is recommended, the practitioner will develop a plan of treatment. Typically, sessions last for 30 minutes.

Does manipulation go “hand-in-hand” with traditional medicine?

Most DOs turn to traditional medicine first, but may choose to add manipulation to the mix if they feel it can be beneficial for a specific patient. Manipulation can augment medication therapy or prevent patients from having to take other medications or having to increase dosing of current medication.

Are there health situations where manipulation should be avoided?

While manipulation is beneficial for many common musculoskeletal problems, there are health situations, such as someone with a severe degenerative disease like arthritis of the neck, where a technique such as high velocity would not be appropriate. Overall, manipulation is a very safe form of therapy and there are usually minimal side effects. A patient may experience soreness afterward, but this usually subsides in a day or two.

Will I experience immediate relief?

Every patient is different. Generally, a couple of treatments can really make a difference in some patients. Some patients, however, may need longer-term therapy to achieve treatment goals.

Will my insurance cover manipulation treatments?

Most insurance companies will cover manipulation, but it is best to check with your insurance carrier to be sure.

By Amber Schmidt, DO

Amber Schmidt is a primary care physician at Week’s Lancaster Physicians

Office. For more information or for an appointment, please call 603-788-5095.