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There is not a single most common osteopathic manipulative treatment, in part because the nature of the treatment involves restoring the flow of the circulatory system, which runs through the entire body. In a typical consultation, the doctor will use touch to sense possible disruptions in the circulatory system. Osteopathic manipulative treatment can be used to treat a number of different problems, but it is most commonly used to ease pain and restore mobility after an injury.
The treatment may appear similar to massage or chiropractic medicine but differs from these practices in a few ways. Osteopathic manipulative treatment focuses on restoring flow in the circulatory and lymphatic systems. A disruption, indicated by swelling, difference in temperature, or decreased mobility, may be worked on by the doctor in order to restore circulation to that area. The treatment is administered by a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) or by a medical doctor (MD) who has undergone special training in osteopathic medicine.
When treating for pain or injury, the doctor may apply gentle pressure to the affected area or may gently manipulate joints. It is also common for a doctor to use a high velocity-low amplitude treatment in which quick, strong bursts of pressure are applied to a small area on the body. Depending on the type of treatment and the severity of the problem, a DO may choose to work directly on the affected part of the body or may provide osteopathic manipulative treatment to the surrounding area.
Chronic pain, such as that caused by menstruation or migraine headaches may also be treated by a DO. Aside from treating pain and injury, osteopathic manipulative treatment is often used to help relieve the symptoms of asthma and other problems with the sinuses.
Unlike many other medical practices, osteopathic manipulative treatment is used to treat the whole patient and not just the disease or injury. The treatment can be performed on a specific area of the body, but the focus of osteopathic medicine is on circulation throughout the body. This type of treatment is common in modern medical practices, especially in rural areas and among family practice physicians.