What to Expect During Osteopathic Manipulation

Understanding osteopathic medicine and osteopathic manipulation can help you decide whether you would like to visit a doctor of osteopathy, known as a DO, or a medical doctor, MD. While training for both of these fields is similar, the approaches of these two types of doctors to their patients are different. While both types of doctors emphasize preventative medicine, have specialties and can prescribe medication, part of the diagnostics and treatments that an DO can offer a patient include osteopathic manipulation.

Types of Osteopathic Manipulation
In general, osteopathic treatments include large, gentle movements that focus on soft tissues. However, there are also several specific types of osteopathic manipulations. One such treatment is myofascial release, or MFR.

MFR involves the fascia, or connective tissue, of the body. The purpose of MFR is to stretch and elongate the fascia and realign them into their proper places. This is done through both massage and actual stretching. MFR is used to treat conditions such as back pain, headaches, pelvic pain and carpel tunnel syndrome. It can take several sessions to fully release the fascia.

The Strain-Counterstrain Technique is also referred to as Jones Counterstrain. When utilizing this technique, the osteopath will find areas of tenderness or pain in your tissue and then move to the joint that is in conjunction with that tenderness. By manipulating that joint, your osteopath will find the angle that best releases or diminishes the pain and will hold that angle for one and one half minutes. This manipulation is used to increase your range of motion and can lead to decreased muscle pain.

Another often used osteopathic manipulation is Greenman Muscle-Energy Technique. During this manipulation, your osteopath will bend a joint to its "barrier." The barrier is the place where the muscle or muscles involved start to resist the bending movement. The DO will hold the joint at that point of resistance while you lightly resist the pressure for several seconds. After releasing the joint and allowing the muscles to regroup, the process is repeated with a little more pressure on the joint. This technique is used to improve mobility.

Cranial Osteopathy is also referred to as Cranial or Cranial-Sacral Therapy. The theory behind this treatment is that the brain and spinal cord's surrounding tissues are subjected to cranial rhythm, or pulsations, which can cause the bones in your skull to move slightly out of place. In order to fix these cranial lesions, the DO gently massages the affected bones in time with your pulsing cranial rhythms. To date, there is no scientific proof that cranial rhythms exist.

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