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What Is Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy, How Is It Done, and What Are Its Benefits?

What is Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy?

Osteopathic manipulative therapy is a treatment that can be helpful in diagnosing, preventing, and treating various conditions. While carrying out this therapy, the therapist does various stretches and movements in a person’s joints and muscles.(1) The techniques in which osteopathic manipulative therapy is done are split into 3 categories by the medical professionals:(2)

  • Direct Method: In this method activating forces are used to move tissues through the range of motion barriers.
  • Indirect Method: In this method, the body is placed in a position of ease.
  • Combined Method: It involves both direct and indirect methods.

What Is Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy, How Is It Done, and What Are Its Benefits?

The techniques in osteopathic manipulative therapy involve moving the limb of the person in different positions. It may also involve the application of pressure and manipulating the body to stretch the muscles and align the joints properly. Sometimes slow and continuous pressure is used while at other times quick and sudden movements are used.

If the person experiences pain, it should be brought to the therapist’s notice.

Osteopathic manipulative therapy is used in the treatment of chronic pains mostly back pain and neck pain.(1) Pregnant females can also benefit from osteopathic manipulative therapy. It can be helpful for dealing with pelvic and lower back pain.

Conditions Treated with Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy

There are various conditions treated with osteopathic manipulative therapy.

Asthma: Osteopathic manipulative therapy can be helpful for people with asthma in managing their symptoms.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Research shows that osteopathic manipulative therapy along with conventional treatment can be helpful in managing the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and improve a person’s health, well-being, and daily functions.(3)

Musculoskeletal Problems: Osteopathic manipulative therapy can be a common treatment of choice for those with lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and when combined with gabapentin, for fibromyalgia.(4)

Chronic Pain: Osteopathic manipulative therapy can be helpful in treating people in chronic pain. It helps in reducing the pain levels, improving functional status, and decreasing the use of medications.

Headache and Migraines: For someone who doesn’t want to use medication for headaches, osteopathic manipulative therapy can be a treatment of choice. Some research also shows osteopathic manipulative therapy as a good treatment option for people with migraine.(5)

Pregnancy-Related Issues: During pregnancy, osteopathic manipulative therapy can be useful in treating pelvic girdle and lower back pain.(6)

How is Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy Done?

Before starting with osteopathic manipulative therapy, the therapist may ask the person about the lifestyle, diet, medical history, symptoms, mental health, and physical activity needs. This information is used to tailor a specific treatment. A physical examination is also carried out to find out the cause of the treatment.

During the treatment, the person is made to lie, sit or stand and various techniques are used by the therapist to manipulate the body. The common techniques used by the therapist are:

  • Massage: Different types of massages are performed to relax the person.
  • Stretching: This technique helps in easing the joints.
  • Articulation: In this technique, the person’s joints are moved through the natural range of motion.
  • High-Velocity Thrusts: The therapist makes sharp and short movements of the parts of the person’s body. These movements lead to a clicking noise.

The purpose of the techniques is to reduce pain, improve the range of motion, and encourage blood flow. Mostly the therapy doesn’t cause pain, if it does, the therapist should be informed. Sometimes the therapist combines chiropractic and physical therapy to help get the result.(7)

After the completion of the therapy, the person may be advised to stay hydrated, go for short walks and avoid hard physical activity.

Benefits of Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy

Osteopathic manipulative therapy can be beneficial in the following ways:

  • Decreases chronic pain and reduces the use of medication
  • Manage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Ease lower back pain
  • Manage episodes of migraine
  • Reduce pelvic girdle pain
  • Solve structural issues
  • Improve joint pain and stiffness

Osteopathic manipulative therapy is a safe treatment and does not carry any risk. Some people may experience soreness and stiffness that mostly goes away in a few days. If it doesn’t the therapist must be informed.

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 21, 2022

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