What is Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT)?

Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT), also known as Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM), is a very gentle and unique type of “hands-on” skilled medical treatment used by Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or D.O.s. D.O.s are fully trained and licensed physicians who are able to practice medicine and surgery. They are considered equivalent to Doctors of Medicine, or M.D.s, and complete 4 years of medical school and 3 years or more of post-graduate medical residency training. The only notable difference today between D.O.s and M.D.s is the practice philosophy and integration of OMT hands-on skills.

OMT is a fundamental part of a D.O.’s medical school education and allows them extra training (often 400-600 extra hours in most Osteopathic medical schools) on the musculoskeletal, circulatory, lymphatic and nervous systems. OMT was discovered by an American-born medical doctor, named Andrew Taylor Still, M.D. and is based on its underlying philosophy, which states:

"1. The body is a unit; the person is a unit of body, mind, and spirit.

2. The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing, and health maintenance.

3. Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated.

4. Effective treatment is based upon an understanding of the above."


Dr. A.T. Still, David Abend, D.O.

OMT allows the Osteopathic physician to use their hands on their patient’s body in order to both diagnose and manipulate or mobilize certain areas of muscle, connective tissue, bone, and joints. These techniques can help the body’s inherent, or “natural”, abilities to stimulate blood flow and lymphatic drainage, encourage normal physiological movement of cranial and skeletal bones, relieve muscle spasticity, normalize the autonomic nervous system, and decrease inflammation. Although other healthcare professionals practice hands-on manipulation for their patients, it is mostly the enhanced and combined level of formal medical education that gives D.O.s a distinct competitive advantage.

D.O.s are not limited only to the musculoskeletal or nervous system like those of other healthcare workers. A D.O.’s ability to understand the other many systems of the body including the cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, endocrine, dermatologic, and ophthalmologic systems as well as understand medications, when to refer to other medical specialties, diagnostic tools ( e.g. MRI, CAT scan, X-Ray) and labs, allows D.O.s to see the complete picture of a patient’s health. The more aspects of health and disease a practitioner is educated in and understands, allows them to deliver the best possible treatment. It is because of this extensive and uniquely American medical education as to why D.O.s offer the highest quality hands-on manipulative therapies when compared to any other “hands-on” practitioners.

Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, Founder of Osteopathic Medicine.