What conditions do patients see an OMP for?

Osteopathic manual practitioners do not diagnose and/or treat medical conditions, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help you. Based on our belief in the human body, we understand conditions/diagnosis as an expression of altered physiology (pathology). You are not “just your condition” nor is that the only thing to consider about your body. What your potential previous diagnosis does provide is an understanding of the symptoms you feel and what anatomy/systems is being affected. Combining your health history and our intake conversation during our first session, we can come to understand how your body is functioning and what we can work on improving together. 

With that said, some common reasons for patients to book appointments with us include: muscle/joint pain, headaches/migraines, chronic conditions, digestive issues, acute/chronic injury, frequent illness/lack of immunity. 

Since OMP’s treat the individual, we will provide treatment as dictated by what is found during our assessment during each session. We assess and treat the body in order to facilitate an environment in which the body can heal and regulate its processes and improve the state of functioning, resulting in diminished expressions/symptoms of conditions. 

Any contraindications or side effects for seeing an OMP?

Since treatment can be altered and individualized, there are very few complete contraindications to osteopathic care. To ensure you are safe during treatment, I may require clearance from your primary health care provider to rule out any existing/underlying health concerns. Within your health history, I will have gathered details about you such as medical history, injuries/accidents and any relevant symptoms or abnormalities. This provides me with the necessary information to best select the approaches I will use during treatment based on your anatomical structure. As one would not use a hammer to tighten a screw, I will not use treatment methods that wouldn’t be suitable to your body based on your condition/diagnosis.

Treatment does result in anatomical changes within the body which leads to physiological changes as the body adapts. You may feel different responses or expressions of these changes. It is common to feel more mobile after treatment which may transition into tenderness in the following days. This should last no more than two to three days and should not be severe. It is similar to going to the gym or doing an afternoon of yard work. Some individuals report feeling light-headed after treatment, but the sensation usually passes quickly as you rest before leaving your appointment. You may also feel thirsty/hungry, feel the need to use the bathroom or the need to rest. All of these are responses from your parasympathetic nervous system (the part of the nervous system responsible for resting and digesting) that is responsible for helping you heal and regulate. 

Can children and young/older adults benefit from an OMP appointment?

Absolutely! Osteopathy is applicable to individuals of any age or background, and can be beneficial for many different concerns. 

Acute injury – Many young people experience accidents or injuries throughout their lives. By re-establishing proper motion mechanics and communication between the anatomical structures, we can open the pathways for healing and prevent further immobility. 

Seasonal changes – As the seasons change, our bodies respond. When done correctly, this is to protect ourselves and keep us healthy. However, if the body is unable to do this preparation by itself, we may struggle with more frequent or more prolonged illnesses such as recurring a cold or lingering cough. Treatment re-establishes movement and fluid flow, aiding in the body’s immunity and ability to rid itself of disease.

Sport/athletics – Have an active kiddo? Athletic activity can be a very positive experience for young people, but it can also be harsh on a growing/changing body. Our goal with youth is to regain their mobility and lessen the painful stimuli from sport. Through treatment, we can address any abnormalities as they are forming in effort to improve functionality, prevent injury or chronic conditions.

Chronic/degenerative condition – While not a cure for medical conditions, treatment can be beneficial for chronic/degenerative conditions by stimulating the self-healing/regulating mechanisms of the body to lessen symptoms and possibly prevent further decline. 

What is osteopathy’s philosophy? 

In osteopathy, our philosophy is what sets us apart from other types of manual therapy. As an OMP, I think and view the body differently than other practitioners. Therefore my assessment and treatment of the body is also different. 

With each of our own educations and viewpoints, we each have slightly different terms and language when discussing treatment findings with our patients. As an OMP, I don’t treat medical conditions, I treat the individual person with their symptoms in mind. I consider the anatomy (structure) of the body and how it affects the individual’s physiology (function) of the body. The structure and function of the body are related through the motion mechanics and communication pathways of the nerve, artery, vein and  lymphatics. These communication pathways supply each of the tissues of the body with instructions and nutrients and need to be able to do their job correctly. In this way, our practice is scientific but also relatable to the phenomenons that surround us in nature.

In short, OMP’s check the point of complaint (pain, injury, illness), but also follow the communication pathways back through the tissues to their source to make sure the whole path is clear. Instead of only treating the point of pain, we also check and address any related parts of the body that may be affecting the main area. This allows us to better find the cause of the complaint, rather than only treating the symptoms resulting from it. This often looks like a broad to specific approach in assessment and treatment, starting with a sweep of the whole body before narrowing in on the area of complaint, in order to not miss any pieces of the puzzle. For example, we wouldn’t want to be building the walls of our homes on an unlevel foundation! 

What educational background do you have?

My post-secondary experience began as a diploma in Fitness and Health Promotion before transitioning into my Bachelor’s degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies. Both of these programs gave me a background in anatomy, physiology, injury rehabilitation and an insight into nutrition, psychology and therapeutics. 

After spending a few years in the workforce after university, I had the calling to return to physical therapy and stumbled upon osteopathy. Finding the Canadian Academy of Osteopathy completely changed my perspective on the application of manual therapy and the impact we can have on individuals, even those who have been let down by other modalities. 

During my four years, half of each year learning and the other half practicing our skills in the school-operated clinic. Over this time, I learned the “anatomical blueprint” of the body and its expected functions. This allows me to apply my scientific anatomical knowledge to connect to what I am feeling through assessment of patients. My practiced palpation and variety of treatment skills allows me to personalize treatment to the findings from each individual during each of their treatments. 

Written by: Colleen Matthews, Osteopathic Manual Practitioner

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