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Family Medicine

Family Medicine

How Can Osteopathic Medicine Help Me?

For patients suffering from chronic pain, osteopathic manipulation medicine (OMM) can provide much-needed relief. Here's what you need to know about how OMM can help and how you can work with your doctor to receive OMM treatment.


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Living with daily pain can drain energy, make performing basic tasks more difficult, and may drastically diminish your quality of life. If you are suffering from chronic or acute pain, osteopathic manipulation medicine (OMM) may provide relief. But what is OMM? And how do you know if you would benefit from this supplemental treatment? Here’s what you need to know.

What is osteopathic medicine?

Upon first explanation, OMM sounds similar to chiropractic care. However, Dr. April Kolb, DO, a Family Medicine physician at The Iowa Clinic’s Waukee Alice’s Road campus notes that while there is some overlap in technique, the majority of the field is very different.

“The biggest difference is the approach to the care,” Dr. Kolb says. “As a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, I am a family physician who gets to approach OMM as a tool in my box. I have the benefit of being able to look at how to best treat my patients from a whole picture perspective, and OMM can be a part of that.”

In short, OMM is a combination of aspects of massage therapy and physical therapy combined with unique musculoskeletal manipulation techniques to help alleviate pain and correct somatic dysfunctions.

“What we do is look for those somatic dysfunctions (basically, something like a bone misalignment, muscle imbalance or trigger points in the muscles),” Dr. Kolb says. “Then we use different techniques to try to correct those and the goal is that it alleviates pain, improves circulation and range of motion.”

While many patients experience relief from pain as a result of OMM treatment, Dr. Kolb notes that it should be utilized in conjunction with your other medical care rather than viewed as an alternative treatment.

“It’s important that people know I’m not an alternative medicine practitioner, and OMM is not an alternative medicine. It’s a treatment type that can help with some symptoms, and can help improve quality of life, but it is usually best as a supplement to physical therapy and other treatment pathways that help address any pathologies you may have,” Dr. Kolb says. “I almost always recommend that patients do physical therapy. I can make you more symmetrical and your alignment better and that will probably help improve your pain but if you’re not doing the work to address the underlying issues like muscle weakness, et cetera, things are going to keep going back the way they were before.”

What health issues does osteopathic medicine help alleviate?

Knowing that OMM is best as a supplemental therapy, Dr. Kolb says that it can still sometimes be curative.

“One thing I see pretty frequently is back or rib pain that is caused by a misalignment. In these cases, utilizing OMM can cure the pain,” Dr. Kolb says.

In cases where OMM is not curative, however, Dr. Kolb notes that the relief it provides still makes it a very beneficial option. OMM can help patients with a wide range of pathologies, but some of the most common health issues that OMM is used to treat include:

“You can try to do OMM for just about everything but mainly it is utilized to help alleviate musculoskeletal pain,” Dr. Kolb says. “Still, it’s almost always a good option to combine with a larger treatment plan, and if you’re curious, you know, what’s the harm in trying?”

How do I receive osteopathic manipulation medicine treatment?

For patients experiencing musculoskeletal pain who are curious about how OMM can help them, receiving the treatment is simple and straightforward at The Iowa Clinic.

“Ask your primary care provider about it! It’s important for people to know that this option exists,” Dr. Kolb says. “It’s so easy to combine with other treatments and I have so many patients that are incredibly grateful for the pain relief it provides.”

With the Coordinated Care model at The Iowa Clinic, working OMM into your larger treatment plan can be seamless.

“The Iowa Clinic is great because we can come up with a very comprehensive treatment plan,” Dr. Kolb says. “Patients get the benefit of multiple perspectives available under one roof to determine the best course of action for your specific needs, especially in relation to chronic and acute pain conditions.”

If you want to know more about how OMM can alleviate your symptoms, schedule an appointment today.

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