Osteopathic manual medicine is a way of adjusting the tissues of the body to bring them into balance with one another and with the other systems of the body, not just the musculoskeletal system.
OMM differs from chiropractic treatment and massage therapy, although some of the techniques are similar. There are many different ways to do bodywork. Massage is one of the oldest forms, and it's really about relaxing the tissues and breaking up tissue adhesions. Chiropractic often is about trying to treat disease with manual medicine, and very often chiropractors use what we would call thrust techniques, where things crack and pop.
In osteopathic manual medicine, the focus is on function. It's about restoring things back to normal function, so it isn't about disease. It's allowing the body to function as well as it can, so it can fight disease as well as possible. In conjunction with that, we also use medications, diet, and exercise to treat patients as a doctor of osteopathic medicine or D.O.
What Does OMM Feel Like? Who Can Benefit?
The manual care itself is the biggest difference between types of care. Most of our techniques tend to be quite a bit more gentle. While we do some techniques that crack and pop things, we also have a whole host of other techniques that are much more gentle, tend to be a lot slower, and generally cause little to no pain.
Most of the time a D.O. uses osteopathic manipulation to address musculoskeletal complaints. That's what most people come in for, ailments such as back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, or hip pain. However, we can use OMM to help with a variety of other things like COPD, heart failure, asthma, and sometimes we even do it in the hospital to help patients. Again, the goal is to allow the body to work as efficiently as possible no matter what disease we’re dealing with.
How Often Should a Patient See a D.O. for Manipulations?
That's really variable. It depends on the health problems and what we're trying to accomplish. If you come in with back pain, we'll go through the assessment to figure out why your back hurts, and understand the pathology or damage that's been done to your body leading to your back pain. We then put together a comprehensive treatment plan, of which OMM is a part.
If I’m going to perform OMM, generally I treat the patient once and have them return in a week. From there, we determine how often we're going to need to see them going forward. Oftentimes, it takes the body two or three weeks to figure out everything we've done to it, because it has to rebalance itself after the treatment. Some people like to come in regularly, just to be checked and have a “tune-up” as they call it; other people come in only when they need it, and that might be once a year, or maybe every three to four months. Again, it really depends on what the problem is we're trying to treat.
How Does OMM Fit Into My Primary Care?
I think understanding OMM in context of the entire patient is important. It isn't about treating someone with OMM. I can treat anybody. The question is: why are we doing it, and what are we hoping to accomplish with OMM? That's the key to it, understanding how this fits into the total care for a person, and that's what makes it important as a direct primary care physician.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about OMM, please send us a message at Schuster Family Medicine & Osteopathic Manual Medicine or give us a call at 317-434-1750. We welcome you to sit down and have a conversation about how osteopathic manual medicine can add to your overall care.