Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine

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Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (abbreviated as OMM) is an approach to manual therapy used to improve the impaired or altered function of the muscle-skeletal system (somatic dysfunction). With roots in ancient Greek "frictions," manual manipulation has long been a part of health care. Today's OMM was first practiced by Andrew Taylor Still, M.D., the founder of modern osteopathic medicine. In the United States, its country of origin, OMM is used by Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.s) along with surgery and medication in treatment of patients. Outside the United States, practitioners of osteopathy (who may have the qualification of D.O. as a Diploma of Osteopathy, but do not necessarily have the same medical training as American- trained D.O.s) generally limit their scope to manual manipulation.

There are different techniques applied to the musculoskeletal system as OMM. These techniques can be applied to the joints, their surrounding soft tissues, muscles and fasciae.

Also, OMM is a treatment that is intended to be used in conjunction with mainstream treatments where it is deemed appropriate. It is rarely used as a primary treatment regimen unless the D.O. is absolutely certain that the patient's problems are a result of a musculoskeletal somatic dysfunction. Furthermore, as with other medical treatment methodologies, there are certain situations where use of OMM is strictly contraindicated (for example, cervical spine HVLA techniques may never be used on patients with Down Syndrome).

While this OMM practice is traditionally ascribed to D.O.'s, it should also be noted that there are M.D. practitioners of OMM since many Osteopathic medical schools have created training programs for their M.D. counterparts. Recently OMM training programs have likewise been extended to other medical professionals including, but not limited to: Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, Nurses, etc.

Some techniques used in OMM are:

  • Balanced ligamentous tension (BLT)

  • Counter-strain

  • Cranial osteopathy

  • High Velocity Low Amplitude Thrust (HVLAT)

  • Joint mobilization - articulatory techniques

  • Lymphatic Pump

  • Muscle Energy Technique (MET)

  • Myofascial Release

  • Neuromuscular therapy, trigger point therapy

  • Soft Tissue Technique

  • Visceral manipulation

When combined as Osteopathic Manual Medicine, these forms of treatment allow the osteopathic physician to restore the normal contact within the joint and with other structures. This eliminates muscular spasms and tensions in the ligaments, thereby restoring complete mobility to the joint. It is probably the comprehensive and eclectic style of OMM that distinguishes it most from that employed by most other manual therapists. The immediate goal of musculoskeletal manipulation is to restore maximal, pain-free movement of the musculoskeletal system in postural balance.