What are the Different Types of Osteopathic Treatment?

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  • Written By: Amy Hunter
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2019
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Osteopathic treatment includes therapies such as myofascial release, high velocity-low amplitude treatment, and muscle energy treatment. Osteopathic physicians, or DOs, can also use traditional treatments, as they are licensed to prescribe medication, practice medicine, and perform surgery. Osteopathic treatment typically includes complementary and alternative types of treatment because DOs take a whole-body approach to healing. They emphasis preventative treatment, and are specifically trained in treating issues involving the musculoskeletal system.

Myofascial release is a form of soft tissue osteopathic treatment used to reduce pain and improve restricted movement. The DO uses hands, knuckles, and elbows to stretch the fascia, or soft portion of connective tissue. Proponents believe that myofascial release improves lymphatic drainage, circulation and relaxes muscles.

High velocity-low amplitude training is similar to chiropractic manipulation. The DO manipulates joints that are not working properly in quick, short bursts. Individuals with vascular disease, osteopenia, rheumatoid arthritis in the spine, or a history of fractures should avoid this type of osteopathic treatment. It is also important that the healthcare provider offering this service have experience to prevent forcing the joint past the proper range of motion.


Muscle energy treatment requires the patient to be an active participant in treatment. The DO determines the cause of pain, and then instructs the patient in moves to strengthen weak areas of the body while the DO actively resists the motion. Muscle energy treatment is used to improve range of motion and treat pain, often following an injury.

Osteopathic treatments are commonly used to treat pain, improve mobility, and encourage healing. Proponents believe that these treatments can improve symptoms of other health conditions as well. DOs use osteopathic treatment to reduce menstrual pain, treat migraines, lessen carpal tunnel symptoms, and treat sinus and allergy symptoms.

Osteopathic physicians and medical doctors are the only two types of complete physicians licensed in the United States. Osteopathic physicians are among the fastest growing segment of healthcare professionals. Osteopathic physicians often work in under-served, rural, or economically depressed areas. Although DOs can be licensed in any specialty, the majority work in family-oriented practices, such as primary care or pediatrics. This type of practice requires the DO to be comfortable diagnosing and treating a wide range of conditions.


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Post 1

In practice most DOs use drugs and surgery exactly like the MDs, and only a very small percentage have used any kind of manipulation on patients.

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