Approximately 20.4 percent of adults in the U.S. struggle with chronic pain. Another eight percent experience high-impact chronic pain that interferes with their daily lives.
Are you part of either of these groups? If so, you may want to consider osteopathic manual medicine (or OMM for short) to help you find relief.
What is OMM, though? How can osteopathic manual medicine benefit you? Read on to learn everything you need to know.
What Is OMM?
Osteopathic manual medicine (or OMM) is sometimes referred to as osteopathic manipulative treatment. Regardless of what you call it, this type of medicine is all about using hands-on techniques to diagnose, treat, and prevent injuries and illnesses.
Doctors of Osteopathy (or DOs) use a variety of strategies to move a patient’s muscles and joints through a full range of motion. They do this to help relieve their pain as well as provide relief from a variety of other symptoms.
OMM is often used as a complement to other treatment modalities. It can act as a standalone option, though, and can even replace drugs or surgeries in some cases.
There are lots of different techniques that DOs use on their patients. The following are some of the most popular:
DOs use a variety of hands-on techniques during their assessment of their patients. This includes abdominal palpation and spinal palpation to figure out what’s causing their patient’s pain or other symptoms. This often takes place at the beginning of the appointment before the doctor moves on to other techniques.
The soft-tissue technique focuses on the muscles surrounding the spine. It involves rhythmic stretching, traction, and deep pressure. The goal here is to get rid of excessive fluid in the tissues (this is known as edema) and help tense muscles relax so that healing can begin.
Myofascial release is a more in-depth version of the soft tissue technique. It focuses on myofascial structures throughout the body and involves applying force with special tools.
During myofascial release, the tissues of the body get loaded with constant force until a releasing sensation occurs. Once this release happens, the patient often feels significant relief and is able to move more freely.
With cranial osteopathy, DOs target the structure and fluid that surrounds the central nervous system (which is comprised of the brain and spinal cord). By addressing the central nervous system, DOs can stimulate the body’s inherent healing abilities and provide significant relief throughout the entire system.
Poor lymphatic drainage can lead to fluid buildup and swelling in the body. This can contribute to pain and discomfort and prevent patients from healing.
Using lymphatic techniques, DOs can help to push fluid through the body and help remove it in the most efficient way possible. This promotes faster healing and can have a significant impact on a patient’s level of comfort.
The thrust technique is similar to manual adjustments that chiropractors use. When using this approach, DOs apply high-velocity and low-amplitude thrusts to specific joints. Their goal is to restore range of motion and release tension in the specific area. This can help patients to move more freely again and avoid feeling stiffness or tenderness in their joints.
Muscle Energy Technique
This technique is similar to the thrust technique. However, instead of lying passively while force is applied to a joint, the patient is told to engage their muscles and hold them in a specific position. Then, the doctor applies a counterforce in a different direction to restore motion and correct issues of asymmetry that might be impairing the patient’s movement or causing pain.
When using the counterstrain technique, DOs direct their patients to move in a passive way away from a restricted motion barrier. This helps to create a passive stretch, which can help to improve alignment, restore range of motion, and minimize pain.
Without so many techniques up their sleeves, doctors of osteopathy have a lot to offer their patients. The following are some of the greatest benefits associated with OMM:
- Reduced pain, stiffness, and tension throughout the body
- Improved posture and spinal alignment
- Improved blood circulation and faster healing
- Improved range of motion and joint mobility
- Treatment for acute and chronic conditions
It’s common for folks to see a DO when they’re struggling with chronic pain. They can also work with them for acute pain and trauma, though, such as injuries related to a car accident or a bad fall.
How to Find an OMM Doctor
Do you want to work with a doctor who specializes in osteopathic manual medicine? If so, here are some guidelines to keep in mind that will help you find the right person for the job:
- Ask for a referral from your primary care doctor or from a friend or family member who has tried OMM
- Do some research to learn about the doctor’s credentials and find out how long they’ve been practicing
- Find out what their specialties are and what kinds of treatments they use most often
- Read reviews to see what past patients have to say about their services
- Check to see if they’re covered by your insurance provider
- If you don’t have insurance or if they’re not covered, find out what they charge per appointment and if they have any payment options available
There are lots of DOs out there who do great work. If you follow these guidelines, you’ll have no trouble finding the right one to assist you.
Try OMM Today
Now that you can answer the question “What is OMM?” with confidence, are you interested in giving it a try? Does it seem like a practice that might be a good fit for you?
If you want to try OMM, keep the tips listed above in mind so you can find the right OMM doctor to help you. Don’t forget to visit the Health section of our site as well. You’ll find lots of other resources there that you can use to manage your pain and feel your best.