Osteopathic Medicine


General Terms


the school of medicine and surgery practiced by medical doctors (M.D.s) with an emphasis on the diagnosis and treatment of specific diseases within the body


mechanical principles applied to the study of biological functions: the application of mechanical laws to living structures


a method of treating disease and injury limited to manipulation of the body joints, especially of the spine


Doctor of Osteopathy; osteopathic physician


tissue surrounding muscle, bones and joints


the method of treating disease by drugs, given in minute doses, which would produce in a healthy person symptoms similar to those of the disease


therapeutic application of manual pressure or force


the school of medicine and surgery founded in 1874 by Andrew T. Still, M.D., that emphasizes the self-healing, interdependent properties of the body and the importance of the unimpeded circulatory and nerve systems of the body in maintaining health


osteopathic manipulative treatment (or therapy)

Osteopathic lesion

term previously used to identify an injury of an organ or tissue resulting in obstruction of the normal discharge of nerve and blood supply; somatic dysfunction is the term now used

Osteopathic manipulative treatment

the therapeutic application of manually guided forces by an osteopathic manipulative physician to alleviate somatic dysfunction; this is accomplished by a variety of treatment techniques:


an act of touching or feeling; physical examination in medical diagnosis by pressure of the hand or fingers to the surface of the body especially to determine the condition of an underlying part or organ

Somatic dysfunction

impaired or altered function of related components of the somatic (body dysfunction framework) system


the study of the anatomy and physiology of the body with emphasis on the musculoskeletal system


stretching injuries of ligamentous tissue


stretching injuries of muscle tissue and fascia


a force acting along a longitudinal axis to draw structures apart


OMT Terms

Articulatory Treatment

a low velocity/moderate amplitude technique where a joint is carried through its full range of motion with the therapeutic goal of increased freedom of movement.

Combined Treatment

1) a term to describe a technique where the initial movements are indirect; as the technique is completed the movements change to direct forces: 2) a manipulative sequence involving two or more different techniques (e.g. Spencer treatments combined with muscle energy technique)


considers the dysfunction to be a continuing, inappropriate strain reflex, which is inhibited by applying position of mild strain in the direction exactly opposite to that of the false strain reflex; this is accomplished by use of the specific point of tenderness related to this dysfunction followed by specific directed positioning to therapeutic response

Cranial Treatment

a description that refers to the diagnosis and treatment skills using the primary respiratory mechanism

Dalrymple Treatment

a venous and lymphatic drainage technique applied through the lower extremities: also called the pedal fascial or pedal lymphatic pump

Direct Treatment

any technique engaging the restrictive barrier and then carrying the dysfunctional component in the direction of the restrictive barrier

Exaggeration Treatment

1) an indirect procedure that involves carrying the dysfunction part away from the restrictive barrier, then applying a high velocity/low amplitude force in the same direction; 2) operator movement of the dysfunctional component away from the restrictive barrier through and beyond the range of voluntary motion to a point of palpably increased tension

Functional Treatment

an indirect treatment method in which the physician guides the manipulative procedure while the dysfunctional area is being palpated in order to obtain a continuous feedback of the physiologic response to induced motion; the physician guides the dysfunctional part so as to create a decreasing sense of tissue resistance (increased compliance)

Indirect Treatment

a manipulative technique where the restrictive barrier is disengaged; the dysfunctional body part is moved away from the restrictive barrier until tissue is equal in all planes and directions

Inhibitory Pressure Treatment

the application of steady pressure to soft tissues to reduce reflex activity and produce relaxation

Lymphatic Pump

a term to describe the impact of intrathoracic pressure changes on lymphatic flow: this was the name originally given to the thoracic pump technique before the more extensive physiologic effects of the technique were recognized

Mandibular Drainage

a technique used to effect increased drainage of middle ear structures via the eustachian tube and lymphatics

Muscle Energy Treatment

a term used to describe the form of osteopathic manipulative treatment in which the patient voluntarily moves the body as specifically directed by the physician; this directed patient action is from a precisely controlled position, against an isometric resistance of the physician

Myofascial Treatment

any technique directed at the muscles and fascia

Myofascial Release Treatment (MRT)

1) direct MRT: a restrictive barrier is engaged for the myofascial tissues; the tissue is loaded with a constant force until tissue release occurs; 2) indirect MRT. the dysfunctional tissues are guided along a path of least resistance until free movement is achieved


the steady application to a body part of a rhythmic mechanical force to induce a harmonic vibration in the tissues for a therapeutic effect; developed by Robert C. Fulford, D.O.

Positional Treatment

a direct segmental technique in which a combination of leverage, patient ventilatory movements and a fulcrum are used to achieve mobilization of the dysfunctional segment; may be combined with springing or thrust technique

Range of Motion

movement of a body part to its physiologic or anatomic limit in any or all planes of motion

Soft Tissue Treatment

procedure directed toward tissues other than skeletal or arthrodial elements: a direct technique which usually involves lateral stretching, linear stretching, deep pressure, traction and/or separation of muscle origin and insertion while monitoring tissue response and motion changes by palpation; also called myofascial treatment

Spencer Treatment

a series of seven direct manipulative procedures to decrease soft tissue restrictions about the shoulder

Springing Treatment

a low velocity/moderate amplitude technique where the restrictive barrier is engaged repeatedly to produce an increased freedom of motion

Thoracic Pump

a technique which consists of intermittent compression of the thoracic cage

Thrust Treatment

a direct technique which uses high velocity/low amplitude forces; also called mobilization with impulse treatment

Traction Treatment

a procedure of high or low amplitude in which the parts are stretched or separated along a longitudinal axis with continuous or intermittent force