Osteopathic manual medicine (OMM) is an apprenticed art that has been passed down, literally “hand to hand,” through manual diagnosis and training for more than 150 years.
Classical osteopathy and OMM are based on the principle that the human body possesses self-healing, self-regulating mechanisms to help us function at an optimal level. Doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) are trained to discover the treatment plan these forces have already designed, in that moment, specifically for that patient. The goal of any osteopathic treatment is to look for the most efficient and effective way to bring about health in the patient.
Dr. A.T. Still, the founder of osteopathic medicine, said, “To find health should be the object of the doctor. Anyone can find disease.” One way of describing the state called “health” is the presence of totally free motion on all levels. A healthy state exists as long as there is normal flow of body fluids and nerve activity. Helping patients to restore their health requires the restrictions to free motion be released. Osteopathic physicians are trained to remove mechanical impediments in the body to allow optimal body fluid flow and nerve function and restoration of health.
An osteopathic approach to medicine is ideal for patients looking for solutions to chronic health issues. Some common problems that typically respond to an osteopathic approach and treatment include neck pain, headaches, back pain, whiplash syndrome, arm pain, overuse syndromes, pain associated with pregnancy, fibromyalgia, colic in infants, digestive disturbances, sciatic-type symptoms, traumatic injuries and chronic illness.
Throughout the treatment process, osteopathic physicians are learning about the patient. They treat the whole person at each visit because treating only the area of complaint often misses the point. The symptoms may be in one location, but the cause often lies in another. This is one reason that osteopathic physicians describe themselves as holistic.
Osteopathic manual medicine may not cure the disease process, but treatment will help to restore normal function and freedom of tissue, thus achieving a new balance for optimum health and well-being.
Information provided by Katherine Heineman D.O., instructor and physician in the Osteopathic Manual Medicine Clinic at Des Moines University.