A doctor of osteopathic medicine represents one of two distinct schools of medicine in the United States today. The first, allopathic medicine, is a traditional Western medical approach to treating the body. The second, osteopathic medicine, focuses on the total person with an appreciation for the inter-relationship that the various body systems have in maintaining health, preventing illness and disease.
An osteopath believes that the musculoskeletal system is one of the key factors in the development or prevention of disease. In addition to the conventional medical education that a traditional doctor receives, a doctor of osteopathic medicine also receives “hands-on” training in diagnosis and manipulative treatments. These act as an extra tool to helping to treat patient ailments, and specifically back pain.
Lower back pain is a condition that affects thousands of individuals each and every day. Because of the methods used to lift, poor core muscle strength and degenerative disc disease this condition is chronic and continues to affect generation after generation.
Doctors of osteopathic use manipulative treatments to treat all forms of disease but the majority treat low back pain, neck pain, sports injuries, repetitive stress injuries and some types of headaches. Several techniques which they can use to help treat lower back pain include soft tissue techniques which applies pressure to the muscle area around the spine. This technique uses rhythmic stretching and deep pressure and traction to help reduce the pain and discomfort.
Muscle energy techniques are used to direct the patients muscles from a precise position and in a specific direction against a counter force applied by the doctor. A thrust technique uses high velocity forces to restore motion to joints or eliminate the signs of tissue changes. This is the common “cracking” technique that most people think of when they think about being manipulated.
The final technique used is called the counter strain. During this approach a patient has moved away from a position where the motion is restricted to one of greater comfort. This technique is used most frequently in an acute injury.
There usually are no side effects to manipulative techniques other than potential soreness for one or two days after the manipulation. The degree of soreness will depend upon the approach used by the physician and the prior physical condition of the individual.
Nearly all back pain is caused by wear directly linked to compression in the spine. This shortening will cause pain because of the new pressure on the spine and the alternative motion in the surrounding skeletal system. By relieving stiffness in the muscles it allows the joints to move more freely and improve the positioning of the spine.
Your osteopath should also give you several tips about exercising regularly, moving around often, walking after sitting for 20 minutes, of adjusting your car seat correctly, paying attention to your posture and getting a new mattress if the old one is contributing to your back pain.
Doctors of osteopathy are trained to help relieve lower back pain and bring your body back into a more natural and live in so that it can help to heal itself.
University of Maryland Medical Center: Osteopathy
MedlinePlus: Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
BioMedCentral MusculoSkeletal Disorders: Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment for Low Back Pain
Cleveland Clinic: Low Back Pain
Cleveland Clinic: Osteopathic Manipulation for Low Back Pain