Health (things to know) / Medical School

All about OMM

I realized the other day that in the several years I’ve had this blog I’ve failed to write much at all about OMM. In fact, it’s likely that most of you don’t even know what it is! Considering I’ve spent the past two weeks teaching it intensively and the fact that I’m diving into a lot of OMM research, I should probably write about it on the blog. After all, it’s very relevant to holistic medicine, health, and prevention. Full disclosure: I love it.

So, what is OMM?

This is a question I’ve spent 3 years refining the answer for. It’s one that comes up again and again, and I still don’t think I have the most concise way of explaining it. OMM stands for osteopathic manipulative medicine (alternatively called OMT for osteopathic manipulative treatment). DO physicians have very similar curriculums to MD students: 4 years of medical school, then residency, then fellowship. They can take the same exams and apply to the same programs. Throughout medical school, in addition to the traditional material, osteopathic students are taught hands on techniques that can be used to assist in the healing process and help restore the body to baseline functioning- the latter is a fancy way of saying “help the body back to normal,” with the caveat that one person’s “normal” might be different from another.

The treatment techniques we learn in school are all meant to augment (but not replace) the standard of care. Let’s say you just had surgery and you needed to spend a few days in the hospital. OMM treatments have been shown to decrease hospital stay, decrease patient pain, and speed up recovery time relative to patients who don’t have OMM treatment. On the other end of the spectrum, OMM can also help with improving range of motion, decreasing muscular pain, and reducing symptoms of various outpatient problems. I’m currently in the process of doing a large literature search for studies that look at use of OMM postpartum- I’m hoping to construct my own study to look at it’s effect on a number of factors after delivery. Spoiler alert: I’m also very interested in Ob/Gyn.

One of the best parts about learning OMM, for me, isn’t just that I can do some fancy manipulative treatments that help people feel a little better than they otherwise would have. I’ve become amazed at how useful it is as a diagnostic tool, and also at how much more comfortable I’ve become interacting with patients. 200+ hours of OMM training allows you to be really attuned to the way the body feels on the outside and how that’s connected to what’s happening on the inside. You learn to pick up on little nuances of information, and get nerdily excited when you realize that what you’ve learned is actually translating to real patients.

This is our OMM Lab at school- they recently updated it with iPads and TV screens all over the room

I’m sure I’ll have more updates for you as the year moves forward. I’ll definitely be sure to tell you about my research projects/presentations and teaching OMM! I just had an abstract accepted for a poster competition for a conference in March, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to present it in person.

And, look! OMM was in the news for helping recover from the flu!
Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 12.53.59 PM
Do you know much about other kinds of “alternative” medicine to supplement traditional treatments? Any likes/ dislikes? There are so many options now a days! 


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