Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT)

This information explains osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT).

OMT involves moving your muscles and joints with stretching, gentle pressure, and resistance. It can be used with other forms of medical care, such as medications or surgery, to help you recover from illness and injury and reduce pain. 

OMT can help to:

  • Ease pain.
  • Improve how well your joints move.
  • Improve how well your muscles work.
  • Balance your body by realigning your musculoskeletal system (your muscles, skeleton, and the connective tissue that supports your organs and tissues).
  • Prevent further injury to your musculoskeletal system.
  • Promote healing.

OMT can be used to treat conditions such as:

  • Back, neck, and shoulder pain
  • Neuromuscular pain syndromes (i. e., neuropathy, myopathy)
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Migraines and tension headaches
  • Asthma
  • Sinus disorders
  • Middle ear infections

Doctors who perform OMT are doctors of osteopathic medicine. They are licensed doctors who have received the education and training needed to perform this therapy.

Before Your OMT Session

Before scheduling an OMT session, your doctor will evaluate you to see if the treatment will be helpful. He or she will speak with you about your medical history and lifestyle, including your job. Tell your doctor if you:

  • Have or had any recent illnesses or surgery.
  • Have or had a fracture, surgery, or cancer in your spine, ribs, or the bones in your arms or shoulders.
  • Have osteoporosis.
  • Think you may be pregnant.

During your exam, your doctor will check your spine, posture, and balance. He or she will also feel your joints, muscles,  tendons, and ligaments. After reviewing the results, your doctor will discuss the cause of your symptoms and whether you may benefit from OMT. If he or she thinks you may benefit, you can make an appointment for an OMT session.

You will get a phone call the day before your appointment to confirm your appointment. You do not need to do anything to prepare for your OMT appointment. You may eat, drink, and take your usual medications.

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During Your OMT Session

When you arrive for your appointment, you will change into a gown. You can leave your undergarments on. During your treatment, you will lie in a comfortable procedure bed. Your doctor will apply gentle stretching, pressure, and resistance to the areas that are causing you problems.

The OMT session usually lasts 30 to 60 minutes. 


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After Your OMT Session

In general, OMT is a safe treatment. Although rare, some people have reported having:

  • A mild headache, which usually goes away in 1 hour. 
  • Mild discomfort at the site of the manipulation. This goes away in 1 to 2 days.
  • Brief episodes of feeling flushed, dizzy, or nauseous immediately after the treatment.
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