Proper and lasting treatment of pain and dysfunction requires finding and treating the causes of the problem rather than treating symptoms. No scientific specialty or healing art has done more to establish such a treatment approach to pain and somatic dysfunction than osteopathy. In fact, OMT isn’t just one approach but many approaches under the eclectic umbrella of osteopathy. These include:
- muscle energy technique(MET),
- high velocity joint manipulation,
- myofascial release,
- strain counterstrain,
- functional indirect technique and many more approaches.
These approaches are directed at joint, muscular and fascial mobility. They fall into two major categories: direct techniques or indirect techniques. In direct technique, the restrictive barrier to motion is engaged directly. For example, if a joint of the spine will not open properly a specific force may be used to open that joint. A high velocity thrust which generally causes an audible ‘pop’ from the joint may be the most well known direct technique. But MET, which requires the client to contract muscles in a position that allows the joint to open or close as needed, is also a direct technique.
Myofascial release is a very direct form of soft tissue mobilization but fascial treatment can be indirect. Indirect techniques do not engage the restrictive barriers. The therapist will move the joint or soft tissue in the direction of ease. Strain counterstrain is an example of an indirect technique that focuses on joint dysfunction. Indirect techniques are often preferable with acute injuries. Since clients are not all the same, and neither are their injuries or responses to injury, it is best to be able to mix direct and indirect techniques to reach the optimal outcomes. If one technique doesn’t work fully, the therapist should be able to move to another approach or technique to regain the motion and muscle balance(a dynamic homeostasis-allostasis).