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Osteopathy originated as a 19th century alternative medical approach focusing on physical manipulation. Today, osteopathic physicians study and practice the same types of medical and surgical techniques as conventional medical doctors. Some of osteopathy's original techniques still persist, however; these, taken together, are called osteopathic manipulation (OM). OM is less well-known to the public than chiropractic spinal manipulation , but it has shown promise for many of the same conditions, such as back pain and tension headaches.
Osteopathic manipulation is primarily used to treat musculoskeletal pain conditions, such as back pain , shoulder pain , and tension headaches . OM is often said to be specifically effective for conditions that have persisted for some time, as opposed to chiropractic spinal manipulation, which, according to this view, is most effective for treatment of injuries that have occurred recently. However, there is no meaningful scientific support for this belief.
Some advocates of OM believe that it has numerous additional benefits, including the enhancement of overall health and well-being .
Safety of Osteopathic Manipulation
Most forms of OM, because of their gentle nature, are believed to be quite safe. However, mild short-term pain may occur immediately following treatment. 1 In addition, some osteopathic practitioners use the high-velocity thrusts common to chiropractic and might, therefore, incur some slight safety risks. (See the Chiropractic article for more information.)