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Osteopathic Manipulation Therapy (OMT)

Osteopathic Manipulation Therapy (OMT) is a non-invasive therapy used to diagnose, treat, and prevent a wide range of pain and health conditions. Instead of focusing on just your symptoms, this whole-person treatment approach helps you identify and address the root causes of your problems so you can experience long-term relief and better overall health.

Continue reading to learn more about OMT and how to contact Lompoc Valley Medical Center if you or your loved one is interested in this safe and effective holistic medical treatment.

What Is Osteopathy?

Osteopathic doctors practice OMT. Osteopathy is a medical specialty that focuses on improving your overall health physically, physiologically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Osteopathic doctors can recognize and understand how your nerves, muscles, bones, and organs work together and how one particular health problem can trigger a slew of other problems.

Osteopathy is a natural, non-invasive form of medicine that restores balance in your body and promotes healing without drugs and medications. However, sometimes osteopathy may be used as a complement to conventional medical treatments to help you recover from certain health conditions.

What Is Osteopathic Manipulation Therapy (OMT)?

OMT is a manual, hands-on treatment that manipulates your soft tissues, muscles, and joints to encourage and stimulate your body’s natural healing process. This treatment has the ability to reduce your pain, improve bodily functions, and restore structural balance to your entire body. It also helps ensure your muscles and bones are properly aligned and balanced.

OMT uses various manual techniques, including massage, stretching, resistance, and pressure application. There are at least 40 techniques used in OMT. Common OMT techniques include:

  • Muscle energy release involves having you move your muscles one way. In contrast, your doctor pushes or pulls the same muscles in the opposite direction.
  • Soft tissue pressure application involves stretching or massaging your soft tissues to improve blood flow and reduce pain.
  • Cranial manipulation, which involves applying soft pressure to different parts of your skull to promote healing.
  • Myofascial release involves applying firm pressure to various parts of your body to release tension in the soft tissues surrounding your bones, muscles, and organs.

Your doctor will customize your OMT treatment as needed to improve your body’s overall functioning and determine how often you need treatment based on your condition and how you respond to treatment. In some instances, your doctor may recommend combining other treatments with OMT.

Conditions Treated With OMT

Many health conditions can be effectively treated with OMT, though back pain is one of the most commonly treated conditions.

OMT can be used to treat:

  • Asthma, sinus infections, and other breathing issues
  • Ear and sinus disorders
  • Constipation
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Chronic pain conditions, including arthritis and fibromyalgia
  • Menstrual pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Joint pain
  • Temporomandibular joint disorders
  • Back and neck pain
  • Insomnia and other sleep disorders
  • Sciatica
  • Edema (swelling)
  • Poor organ health
  • Kidney disease
  • Cardiovascular problems including high blood pressure
  • Poor blood flow
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Repetitive stress and overuse injuries, including tennis elbow and tendonitis
  • Side effects from medications

If your health condition is not listed above, ask your doctor whether it can be treated with OMT. OMT may not cure or resolve all medical conditions, especially irreversible conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and scoliosis. However, OMT may be able to improve symptoms related to these conditions.

The Difference Between OMT and Chiropractic Care

Many of the manipulation techniques used in OMT are similar to those used by chiropractors. However, there are key differences between OMT and chiropractic care.

Like osteopathic doctors, chiropractors focus on joints and bones. However, OMT focuses on preventing and treating health problems that affect the entire body instead of only the joints and bones.

Doctors who practice OMT are medical doctors who have completed medical school and medical residency. At the same time, chiropractors require fewer hours of education at a chiropractic college and are not considered medical doctors. Additionally, osteopathic doctors who perform OMT use far more manipulation techniques than chiropractors.

What Are the Benefits of OMT?

OMT offers a countless number of benefits due to how it can improve your overall health as opposed to just a few symptoms or one single medical condition. OMT helps your entire body function better as a whole. Below are some of the most significant benefits associated with OMT.

  • It Can Treat Multiple Ailments at Once.OMT can address several medical conditions during one session so you can experience relief sooner and avoid having to visit multiple specialists for treatment. This makes OMT extremely convenient as it can result in lower medical costs, fewer appointments, and less travel. It may also eliminate the need for all your doctors to collaborate to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.
  • It Addresses the Root Cause of Your Conditions.The manipulation techniques used in OMT can increase blood flow to your organs, release toxins from your muscles, and improve many other bodily functions to resolve multiple problems stemming from one root cause. For example, poor gut health is linked to fatigue, insomnia, and mood disorders, including depression. OMT can treat irritable bowel syndrome and other gut and digestive problems to resolve all related health problems, including mental health conditions.
  • It’s Noninvasive and Drug-Free.OMT is a manual therapy that involves no injections, incisions, or medications. This noninvasive therapy produces no downtime and no major side effects, so you can resume your normal activities without having to worry about feeling ill or experiencing long-term side effects such as those produced by medications and surgery.
    For example, taking opioids long-term to relieve chronic back pain can result in side effects, including constipation, increased pain sensitivity, and physical dependence. OMT eliminates these types of risks to keep you healthy and promote your body’s natural healing abilities without the use of drugs.
  • It Can Be Performed in Nearly Any Setting.OMT can be performed nearly anywhere in any medical setting. Doctors who perform OMT need only chairs and an exam table to do this treatment. This means you can receive OMT at a small outpatient clinic, in your home, or at a hospital where you may already receive other treatments.
  • It Reduces Pain Naturally.According to the CDC, chronic pain is a widespread condition in the United States, where it affects an estimated 20.4% of the adult population. The most common medical treatments for chronic pain are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), aspirin and ibuprofen, and prescription painkillers, including morphine and oxycodone. OMT can reduce pain naturally through its various manipulation techniques.
  • It Can Help You Sleep Better.OMT improves a variety of health conditions that contribute to sleep disturbances like insomnia. Chronic pain, muscle tension, and headaches are many conditions that can lead to insomnia and poor sleep. Still, OMT can resolve these problems to help you sleep better.
  • It Can Heal Previous Injuries.Scar tissue buildup from long-ago injuries can often cause long-term pain, muscle tightness, and motion range problems. OMT can manipulate scar tissue, improve blood flow to injured areas, and move lymphatic fluid to promote the full healing of injuries you may have sustained months or years earlier. This makes OMT an especially desirable treatment among athletes and those who have suffered accidents.
  • It Can Improve Breathing and Respiratory Problems.OMT can improve inflammatory lung conditions, including bronchitis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) through manipulation techniques, including rib raising and thoracic pumping. These methods can help reduce inflammation in the airway and lungs and strengthen your immune system to make breathing conditions less severe. OMT can also treat respiratory illnesses, including pneumonia, to reduce the risk of respiratory failure and death.

Side Effects of OMT

OMT is a non-invasive treatment that produces no side effects. Mild soreness for a day or two is common and normal after OMT, though pain is not. Contact your doctor right away if you experience any pain following your OMT session.

What to Expect

During an OMT Appointment

OMT appointments typically last longer than appointments with your primary care doctor because they focus on every single aspect of your health versus just your symptoms. Your doctor will usually begin by asking you about your medical history and the health conditions you want to be treated with OMT. Then, your doctor will perform a physical examination to evaluate your nerves, bones, and muscles.

During manipulation therapy, you may stand, sit, or lie down on an exam table, depending on the areas of your body being treated. Your doctor will then use one or more OMT techniques to work and treat your muscles and soft tissues.

You may be asked to hold your breath at specific times during OMT, and some techniques may feel strange or slightly awkward. However, OMT should not produce any pain. Inform your doctor immediately if any of the techniques they’re using are causing you to experience any level of pain or discomfort.

Preparing for an OMT Appointment

OMT requires very little preparation. However, it may help make a list of your health concerns, including your symptoms, as your doctor will review your medical history and ask you a series of questions about your problems.

Your doctor may also ask you about your lifestyle behaviors related to nutrition, exercise, and sleep and about the state of your mood and mental health. OMT focuses on whole-person health. Therefore, your answers to these questions can help your doctor identify the root causes of your ailments. For example, a diet high in sugar and fats could be contributing to headaches and fatigue. Be prepared to discuss topics such as these when you arrive for your appointment.

Additionally, some doctors may ask that you undergo other tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and X-ray before your OMT appointment. Confirm whether you need certain tests before starting OMT.

After an OMT Appointment

Everyone responds to OMT differently. Some people experience relief right away, while others gradually feel relief over several days or weeks. In addition, some people may feel exhausted after their appointments, while others may feel highly energetic and refreshed. These effects occur as a result of your body adjusting to the changes made during OMT.

Your doctor will explain what to expect following your OMT appointment. You may be instructed to drink plenty of water to help flush toxins released from your muscles into your bloodstream during manipulation therapy. Your doctor may also instruct you to go for a brief walk to help your body properly adjust and balance itself.

Most patients can resume their usual activities after 24 hours or after their soreness has resolved within a few days. Your doctor may recommend using a heat pack or cold pack to relieve soreness or to perform gentle stretching and other forms of mild exercise. Ask your doctor when it’s appropriate for you to resume activities based on your health and recovery status.

Who Needs OMT?

OMT can benefit anyone of any age who wants to improve their overall health and stimulate their body’s natural healing ability. In addition, OMT can benefit people with chronic conditions, including pain, heart disease, kidney disease, and people who sleep poorly or suffer from sleep disorders. OMT can also benefit women experiencing pregnancy-related side effects and infants suffering from colic.

OMT is ideal for anyone who wants to avoid using medications and surgery to address their health problems and avoid long hospital stays, downtime, and recovery associated with more invasive medical procedures.

OMT may not be ideal for people who have acute injuries or are at an increased risk of bleeding. Ask your doctor whether OMT is safe for you based on your current health and medical conditions.

Osteopathic Services at Lompoc Health

We offer OMT and many other noninvasive healthcare services and treatments. Check our one of our providers below to make an appointment and learn more about our many available healthcare services for you and your family.

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