Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy

When you find a sport you love, slowing down for an injury can be hard – even when your body is telling you to do so. This is especially true with injuries like knee problems where symptoms may come and go without warning. Experts at Baptist Health can help you get lasting relief with osteopathic manipulative therapy, or OMT.

Osteopathic manipulative therapy is a non-surgical treatment that uses the power of human touch to heal sports injuries. Baptist Health is home to Louisville’s only doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) specializing in sports injuries. 

What is Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy?

Osteopathic manipulative therapy uses a variety of techniques to move (manipulate) injured muscles and joints in ways that promotes the body’s natural ability to heal. This treatment can only be delivered by a DO.

A DO is a fully licensed physician with special training in the body’s complex network of nerves, muscles and bones. This expertise helps us uncover problems that can be easy to miss, such as injuries affecting nearby tissue. We use this information to accurately diagnose injuries and deliver lasting relief. 

In addition to offering a depth of expertise in osteopathic manipulative therapy, our DO has advanced training (board certification) in treating sports injuries. 

Using techniques that range from well-placed light touches to thrust techniques, osteopathic manipulative therapy addresses the root cause of sports injuries. OMT can:

  • Bring bones and joints back into their natural alignment
  • Relieve tension in the web-like layer of tissue that lies just beneath your skin (fascia)
  • Soothe strained connective tissue 
  • Loosen up tight bands of muscles 

Similar to chiropractic care, osteopathic manipulative therapy is a hands-on approach for healing complex injuries. However, the scope of osteopathic manipulation is much broader:

  • Chiropractic care treats injuries by making sure the bones of the spine and major joints are in or close to their natural position (alignment).
  • Osteopathic manipulative therapy relieves injuries all over the body, including problems with cartilage, tendons, ligaments, joints and connective tissue.

Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy: Why Choose Us?

We often treat patients who have seen several doctors or tried multiple treatments and are still in pain. Our expertise can help you start to feel better, beginning with your very first treatment.  

Highlights of our program include: 

  • Comprehensive evaluation: Our DO delivers your care from start to finish, beginning with a comprehensive evaluation. We listen to you describe the injury and symptoms you are experiencing. Using a gentle touch, we examine the injured area. If necessary, you may receive ultrasound imaging on the spot. Find out more about the evaluation.
  • Convenience: Even if you are new to our program, we try to see you as quickly as possible. You may even be able to get a same-day appointment. We keep two appointment slots open every day for patients who have conditions that just can’t wait. Read helpful information for new sports medicine patients.
  • Personalized approach: We tailor every aspect of your care. During your evaluation, we take the time to discuss what we’re seeing as well as our recommendations for the best ways to help you get better.
  • Safety and comfort: We carefully balance osteopathic manipulative therapy with your body’s natural ability to heal itself. If you are experiencing severe pain, we may recommend a period of rest before starting treatment. We can also help you stay comfortable during treatment by prescribing pain medication if needed.
  • Seamless care: Sometimes we use osteopathic manipulative therapy to help you get immediate relief until you can undergo more advanced treatments, such as surgery. When surgery is necessary, our DO and surgeons work closely together to help you get seamless care. Find out more about orthopedic services.

Osteopathic Manipulative Techniques We Offer 

Our DO uses a variety of manipulation techniques, including: 

  • Soft-tissue manipulation: We use this technique to break up abnormal buildups of fluid and knotted muscle tissue. Soft-tissue techniques include stretching, pressure and gentle pulling (traction).
  • Myofascial release: This technique loosens the layer of tissue that surrounds the muscles (fascia) when it is stiff and tight. We apply gentle pressure without kneading or stroking the muscle until the tissue gives way and releases the muscle.
  • Cranial osteopathy: We make small adjustments to the bones and connective tissue in your skull (cranium). Even though it feels solid, your skull has joints that can make small movements. Moving these joints regulates the flow of spinal fluid, sending signals that promote natural healing.
  • Muscle-energy: We ask you to hold your muscle in a specific position and then apply gentle pressure to help lengthen tight tissue.
  • Counterstrain: This technique resets signals between your nervous system and muscles to stop muscle spasms. We start by putting the injured muscle in a position that shortens it, such as bending your leg or arm. We then hold the muscle in that position for a few seconds up to a few minutes until the area relaxes.

Sports Injuries We Treat with Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy

Sports injuries we treat using OMT include: 

  • Concussion
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder problems
  • Upper-, mid- and a lower back pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Ankle sprains and injuries
  • Overuse injuries

Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy at Baptist Health: What to Expect

OMT can provide fast relief for painful symptoms. However, you may not feel 100 percent better after the first treatment. It may take a few treatments to find lasting relief. We let you know what to expect through every step of your recovery.  

If osteopathic manipulative therapy is right for you, here’s what to expect: 

  • Evaluation: Our DO performs a comprehensive evaluation. This evaluation includes listening carefully as you describe the injury. If necessary, you may also receive an ultrasound right in the exam room. Learn more about evaluation.
  • Personalized treatment plan: We take time to explain the diagnosis before working with you to develop a personalized treatment plan. This plan may start with rest to allow for natural healing.
  • Education: Before treatment, we discuss how our recommended technique works. We also tell you what sensations you can expect to feel. If you are nervous about receiving treatment, we discuss your concerns and answer any questions you may have.
  • Manipulation: You lie on a special table, and our DO helps you get into the right position. What happens next depends on the injury and the manipulation technique that is best for you. During treatment, you may notice a release of pressure or feel no sensation at all.
  • Next steps: In most cases, osteopathic manipulative therapy brings symptom relief and better range of motion after just one treatment. As you feel better, we let you know when it is safe to start getting back to your sport.

Next Steps with MyChart

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