Osteopathic Principles
What are the principles of Osteopathic Medicine?

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) restore health by applying osteopathic principles in the practice of hands-on treatment called osteopathic manipulation (OMT).  This method helps to alleviate pain, restore mobility and reduce or eliminate impediments within the body by focusing on the restoration of function. Osteopathic knowledge and treatment consider the musculoskeletal system as well as the inter-relationships of all body systems (e.g. neurological, respiratory, digestive, hormonal, etc.).

The Tenets of Osteopathic Medicine expresses the underlying philosophy of osteopathic medicine and were approved by the AOA House of Delegates as policy.
  1. The body is a unit; the person is a unit of body, mind, and spirit.
  2. The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing, and health maintenance.
  3. Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated.
  4. Rational treatment is based upon an understanding of the basic principles of body unity, self-regulation, and the interrelationship of structure and function.
Learn More from the AOA Learn More from the Cranial Academy
How is it different from chiropractic care?
The theory of osteopathic medicine is different than chiropractic medicine. Chiropractic teaches that “subluxation” of the spinal column can affect nervous system function and therefore result in symptoms and disease. [Note: This is taken from Palmer College website]. As osteopathic physicians, we do not disagree, however, osteopathy is a much broader system. In osteopathic medicine, we look at the function and impaired function of the bones, joints, muscles, and connective tissue and the effect on the blood vessels, lymphatics, and both peripheral and central nervous systems throughout the entire person, including the autonomic nervous system. In osteopathic medicine, these restrictions are termed "somatic dysfunctions" and are different from a subluxation as taught by chiropractic schools. 
Chiropractors also typically utilize what osteopathic medicine call high-velocity low amplitude mobilization (“cracking”). That is one of the many ~ 10-12 modalities that osteopathic neuromuscular medicine specialists am trained to perform; we use it when it is the best tool to address the somatic dysfunction identified, but the technique only applies to a subset of somatic dysfunction findings in osteopathic medicine. 
Learn More from the Cleveland Clinic
How is it different from physical therapy?

Physical therapy typically emphasizes the strengthening of various muscle groups, particularly focused on areas of pain and dysfunction. Physical therapy can often be a helpful adjunct to osteopathic treatment but is not a replacement to an osteopathic examination and identification of osteopathic somatic dysfunction. Many times, pain is perceived at a location far from what overall causing the issue in the first place. Osteopathic care provides a more holistic view and also addresses issues that go beyond muscles that need strengthening. Often I find that stretching, lengthening, and releasing muscles that are chronically tight are much more effective than strengthening the opposite muscles.

Take, for example, someone with an ankle sprain. This is a common issue that many people will experience in their lifetime. The sprained ligaments in the ankle change a person's gait or walking pattern. This new pattern puts stress on the hips and low back. In turn, the muscle firing pattern changes in the low back. These muscles attach to the shoulder and may cause scapular dyskinesis and shoulder pain. If you are focusing on treating the shoulder, but never restore movement to the ankle and return a proper gait pattern, the shoulder pain will not improve. What does the screening for this look like? 

What does a screening exam look like?
The History of Osteopathic Medicine
How did Osteopathic Medicine start?

Osteopathic manipulative medicine began during the American Civil War era when Andrew Taylor Still, MD/DO (pictured to the right) proposed an alternate philosophy in medical thinking. Dr. Still observed disease in patients who had limitations in their body’s normal motion. He then postulated and experimented with using his hands to manipulate the tissues and bones of the body to restore their function and motion. He found that normal motion restored health. Dr. Still proposed that the mind, body, and spirit are integrally connected and medicine must evaluate the whole in order to determine the cause of disease or ailment. A.T. Still believed health was not simply the absence of disease. He believed that with optimal motion throughout the body, the body possesses an innate healing system. It is the job of the physician to guide the body to best use this innate healing system, and we agree with his teachings!

OMT has been practice by the D.O. community since this time. It is taught in all osteopathic medical schools through coursework on philosophy and hands-on lab training where students are guided by practicing physicians. Dr. Wells and Dr. Davis loved this setting so much, they became scholars of their medical school to teach in the classroom for an extra year. Osteopathic practitioners refine their palpatory skills to recognize the smallest motions in the body and our eyes are trained to recognize motion and absence of motion in body movement. Through a variety of techniques, osteopathic practitioners are able to restore motion in areas restricted, hence improving functionality.

What can OMT Treat?

Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine is often recognized for its treatment of musculoskeletal conditions. While this is true, there are other conditions in which OMM can be useful such as:

Acute Musculoskeletal conditions

  • Sports injuries
  • Low back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Overuse injuries

Chronic musculoskeletal condition

  • Degenerative spinal processes
  • Disc disease
  • Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Arthritis
  • Tendinitis

Ear, nose and throat

  • Chronic otitis media
  • Chronic/acute sinusitis
  • Allergies
  • Vertigo
  • Tinnitus
  • Eustachian tube dysfunction
  • TMJ


  • Headaches
  • Carpel tunnel syndrome
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Concussive syndrome
  • Balance/gait (walking) dysfunctions


  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Fertility
  • Pelvic pain/pelvic floor dysfunction
  • Low Milk Supply


  • Pain in Pregnancy
  • Round Ligament Pain
  • Dysparunia


  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Chronic Lyme disease
  • Postural Orthostatic Tachycardic Syndrome (POTS)


  • Shallow and Painful Latch
  • Ear Infections
  • Newborn Colic
  • Migraine Headaches
  • Autism spectrum disorder
What techniques do you perform in your office?

Our physicians are board-certified in Osteopathic Manipulation, meaning they have shown mastery in the following techniques: 

  • Counterstrain
  • Muscle Energy
  • HVLA (high velocity, low amplitude)
  • Soft Tissue
  • Myofascial Release
  • Cranial Osteopathy
  • Articulatory Technique

In addition, our physicians have further studied the following techniques and have developed mastery in these non-traditional techniques:

  • Facilitated Positional Release
  • Visceral Techniques
  • Autonomic Balancing
  • Functional Technique
  • Biodynamic Osteopathy
  • Balanced Ligamentous Tension/Ligamentous Articular Strain
  • Balanced Membranous Tension