Nearly every day, medical science unveils new discoveries from brain scans to anti-cancer drugs. In the midst of these wonders, it’s easy to forget that sometimes what patients really need is a healing touch.

Osteopathic and chiropractic physicians have not forgotten.

What Is OMT and CMT?

Osteopathic and chiropractic manipulative treatment, or OMT and CMT, is hands-on care. It involves using the hands to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness or injury. Using OMT, your osteopathic/chiropractic physician will move your muscles and joints using techniques including stretching, gentle pressure and resistance.

Who Can Benefit From OMT and CMT?

OMT / CMT can help people of all ages and backgrounds. It can:
• ease pain
• promote healing
• increase mobility

OMT / CMT is often used to treat muscle pain. But it can also help patients with a number of other health problems such as:
• asthma
• sinus disorder
• carpal tunnel syndrome
• migraines
• menstrual pain

When appropriate, Manual Therapy (MT) can complement––and even replace––drugs or surgery. In this way, MT brings an important dimension to standard medical care.

What Is a D.O. and D.C.?

The physicians who practice OMT are Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.s) or Doctors of Chiropractic (D.C.s). Both D.O.s and M.D.s are fully licensed physicians. They provide a full range of services, from prescribing drugs to performing surgery, and they use the latest medical tools. But D.O.s and D.C.s offer something special–their unique approach to patient care. They:
• teach patients how to prevent illness and injury by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
• look at the whole person to reach a diagnosis without focusing just on symptoms.
• help the body to heal itself.
• believe that all parts of the body work together and influence one another. D.O.s and D.C.s are specially trained in the nervous system and the musculoskelatal system (muscles and bones).
• are trained to perform osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT).
They provide the best care that medicine has to offer.

If you’ve never been to a D.O. or D.C. before, you may wonder what to expect. A typical office visit includes four parts: interview, exam, diagnosis, and treatment.

The doctor. will talk with you about your medical history. In addition, you will be asked about such factors as your home, work, and family life.

Your doctor will do a complete physical exam. If necessary, tests will be ordered. The physician will do a structural exam, which starts by checking your posture, spine, and balance. The doctor will then use fingers to feel your back, hands, and feet. Also, the physician will check your joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

The doctor will consider the results of the interview and exam and will tell you what may be causing your symptoms.

The doctor will suggest a treatment plan. This may include such options as drugs and surgery. It may also include OMT / CMT. Depending on how severe your problem is, you may need more than one MT session.

Does Manual Therapy Work?

Consider the results of a study published in a 2003 issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Researchers observed the effects of MT as an added treatment for children suffering from frequent ear infections. Patients were divided into two groups. One group received routine care for the infections while the other received routine care plus MT.

The results found a potential benefit of using OMT / CMT as an added treatment by possibly preventing or decreasing the need for surgical interventions or the overuse of antibiotics.

In addition, The New England Journal of Medicine published a study in November 1999. In the study, researchers looked at how well MT works to treat low-back pain.

Patients were divided into two groups. One group received standard treatments, such as hot and cold packs, physical therapy, and drugs. The other group received standard care plus MT.

Twelve weeks later, patients in both groups felt better. But those in the OMT / CMT group used less medication and less physical therapy. That meant they had fewer side effects and lower health care costs.

Dr. Sniezek is a fully trained and licensed Doctor of Medicine and a Doctor of Chiropractic. He is Board Certified by the American Board of Chiropractic Examiners. In addition, he has received additional formal training in Osteopathic Manipulation Treatment through the Harvard Medical School postgraduate program.