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Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy: What is it?

I am a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.). So many people ask me what the difference is between a D.O. and an M.D. The main difference is the extra training that D.O. receives in osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMT). This is a method of hands on treatment that helps the body heal itself. The treatment is considered evidenced based therapy and the positive effects are supported with research.

The Tenets of Osteopathic Medicine:

-The Body is a Unit

-The Body is capable of self-healing, regulation, and health maintenance

-Structure and Function are interrelated

-Rational treatment is based upon an understanding of the basic principles of body unity, self-regulation, and the interrelationship of structure and function


D.O.'s receive the same 4 year training in medical school that M.D.'s undergo. We take the same board exams. We attend residency programs on the same level. There really is no difference between the two besides the OMT therapy. Many D.O.'s do not practice OMT but I do and I really enjoy it. I find that it can really benefit my patients--especially patients with chronic pain, upper respiratory issues, headaches, asthma, chronic GI issues, and mental health conditions.


When discussing types of OMT, there are 3 main categories:

  • Direct technique: Direct methods use an activating force to move tissues through dysfunctional barriers. This is what you think of when "popping" joints back into place. Dr. Phillips rarely uses this method. For example, let's say you want to get your coat off the hanger. Direct technique would pull the bottom of the coat down until it pulls off the hanger.

  • Indirect technique: Indirect methods move the body to a position of ease, resetting the soft tissues and bones to a functional state. This is the main type of treatment Dr. Phillips uses. Let's say you want to get your coat off the hanger. Indirect technique would lift the coat up and over and down over the hanger.

  • Combined: Combined methods use a mixture of direct and indirect techniques.

Some terms you may find Dr. Phillips use during treatment are facilitated positional release, craniosacral therapy, lymphatic technique, muscle energy, and soft tissue technique.


After undergoing OMT it is very important to drink plenty of water. Also, if you come for OMT treatment be sure to wear comfortable clothes so Dr. Phillips can get to your joints easily.


OMT is included in your membership at Front Porch Family Medicine! Sign up today to try it out and see where it could help you balance your health and well being.

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