Orthomanual Therapy: Treatment for Malalignment of Spinal Vertebrae and Other Joints
Orthomanual Therapy, developed by Dr. Sickesz in 1965, is an area of alternative medicine focusing on diagnosis and management of conditions resulting from malalignment of spinal vertebrae and other joints and the affect of it on different functions of the body. Dr. Sickesz developed a distinctive technique to correct the malalignment of the pelvis and spine, concentrating on separate malalignments of each vertebra and observed that there was a specific pattern in the malalignments of the vertebrae. Vertebral malalignment can result from injury, accident, repetitive strain, childbirth, lack of exercise, poor posture or due to overstressed joints due to lifting heavy objects. Malalignment of the spine results in irritation of the nerves and muscles which are responsible for controlling the movements, posture and correct functioning of the organs. This results in symptoms such as pain, discomfort and other medical conditions which are an indication of malfunctioning in our body. More than half of the general population suffers from vertebral misalignments at some point in their life. These misalignments are commonly caused due to poor posture, poor sleeping habits, vigorous exercise, injury/trauma, accidents, sports injuries, slips or falls, and even the birthing process. Vertebral misalignments cause compression or irritation of the nerves and the muscles. As the nerves serve the entire body, problems can occur in various parts of body which may seem unrelated to the vertebral misalignments such as fatigue, dizziness tension headaches, migraine, depression, neurologic disorders, torticollis, pain in the shoulders, arms, chest and abdomen, sciatica, disc problems and sometimes digestive problems. Orthomanual therapy is used to relieve lung problems, digestive problems, menstrual problems, Parkinson’s disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.
Orthomanual therapist performs “corrections” on the malalignments using fingers to locate the malalignments in the joints of the spine and limbs. This relieves symptoms of pain and discomfort. Mobility and function also considerably improve. Orthomanual treatment can be done on anyone, including the elderly, newborns, sportsmen, and pregnant females. In the elderly, bone density study is recommended to make sure that the bones have enough calcium to withstand the adjustment. Orthomanual therapist locates and treats the vertebral malalignments, as well as malalignments in the joints of the extremities and pelvis. The patient is made to lie in a prone position or on the side. A pillow can be used to support the spine and to make it more manageable for adjustment. The adjustments are made in a specific order. Usually two adjacent vertebrae are not corrected at once. Postural abnormalities need a specific sequence which may require 3- 4 sessions. Further adjustments, if required, can be made at a later period.
Before performing the adjustments, the orthomanual therapist will take a detailed history from the patient related to the condition. After this, a thorough examination is done to find out which region of the body is affected and its severity. The therapist may recommend additional studies such as x-rays or bone density studies in order to develop the most effective line of treatment.
The orthomanual therapist tries to correct the misaligned bone by applying pressure using his/her fingers. In some cases, more pressure is required which is given by using a soft-top punch and a hammer. There may be pain felt during the adjustments, although the procedure on whole is not very painful and can be painless also. The patient often feels a noticeable difference in his/her symptoms immediately after the adjustment. Patient may experience tiredness or discomfort in the adjusted area during the initial days of treatment.
After the adjustment on the misaligned joints is done, patient is given instructions on his daily activities and other precautions which need to be taken after going home.