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Osteopathic Tenets

  • The body is a unit.

  • The body has self-healing abilities.

  • Structure and function are inter-related.

  • Rational treatment will take the first three into account.


Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) assists the body’s persistent, self-healing mechanisms by listening precisely and non-intrusively to its rhythms.  OMT is a hands-on approach to healing that enhances the body’s ability to function and to heal itself.  The goal of treatment is to restore the unrestricted motion and function of the body and all of its structures.  This is achieved through OMT, nutrition and exercise. The patient will learn how to manage their problem with the plan that they will not need treatment in the future.

OMT is first learned by students during medical school. Osteopathic medical school is a four-year training program, similar to traditional medical school, although with additional time allotted to learning OMT.  Most Doctors of Osteopathy (D.O.'s) then complete a residency in primary care, surgery, anesthesia, or any of the specialities. A small percentage of D.O.s will choose to make OMT a mainstay of their practice. These doctors tend to specialize in either Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine / Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Primary Care/Internal Medicine or Pediatrics.


OMT differs from other bodywork in that it is part of a medical philosophy that considers the body as a unit and recognizes that its structure influences its function.  It looks for the cause of problems and encourages patient participation in the resolution of somatic (body) complaints.


Most patients will not need to return for treatment after their problem has been resolved unless a new problem arises.  Some chronic conditions (dystonia, fibromyalgia, scoliosis, arthritis) may need regular visits (every six to eight months) with some more frequent treatments during flares in symptoms.


Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment is prescribed by the physician and is performed by the physician.  It is used when there is a diagnosis of  “somatic dysfunction” (problem with a part of the body).  A somatic dysfunction is defined as 1) altered tissue texture, 2) range of motion changes 3) tenderness.  When at least two of these are present, OMT will usually be prescribed and performed.  The somatic dysfunction, which is “key” to the overall problem is usually treated first.

The cranial bones should be able to move.  The sutures (jagged lines between the cranial bones) are actually joints.  The bones have an inherent motion, like your breathing or heartbeat.  This motion helps the blood flow in and out of the cranium and also initiates the circulation of the cerebral spinal fluid, which is important for the healthy functioning of the spinal cord and the peripheral nerves.  Treatment of the cranium is directed at the dura (the covering of the brain and spinal cord) and also at the individual sutures and bones.

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