My doctor is a D.O… What does that mean?
My wife and I have seven children, ages five months to 11 years of age and one of the things I hear them say often in response to something my wife or I say is, “What does that mean?” It’s amazing how when you start to try to explain something to a child, you realize how hard it is to answer any question clearly.
With that in mind, I will try to address this question because I think it is important to convey this clearly. There are two types of physicians: M.D. and D.O. They are trained in different medical schools and are both able to prescribe medications and if they choose to become a surgeon, perform surgery.
However, only a D.O. is trained to use a hands-on treatment called OMT. I know what you’re thinking; “What does that mean?” OMT stands for Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment and is performed by a Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.). It is not chiropractic care. It is not massage therapy. It is not physical therapy. It is not a “one size fits all treatment” or simply “popping things back into place”. These are all common misconceptions I hear from my patients. I promise, I will soon explain what it is but please allow me to provide some background.
Although every D.O. receives some training in using OMT during medical school, not every D.O. uses OMT regularly in treating patients. I have decided to use OMT often in treating my patients and use this several times a day on patients of all ages with great results. I like to be able to help my patients feel better immediately in the office and continue to feel better when they get home if possible without having to take pain medication.
Most of the time, I use OMT to treat patients who are having some kind of pain although I have seen good results in patients with sinus congestion and constipation as well as other conditions unrelated to pain. Depending on the complexity of a patient’s problem, sometimes I can perform OMT on my first visit with a patient and other times I need to use the first visit solely to diagnose the problem and set up a separate visit to provide the first treatment.
Ok, as promised…OMT is a treatment in which I use my hands to help a patient’s body to heal itself. The body heals itself better and keeps itself healthy when it is under less physical and emotional stress. I can help reduce the stress to the body through techniques where I carefully and precisely “pop joints” that are out of alignment into a position of more comfort. I can also do some very gentle “muscle tension unwinding” type techniques. I individualize every treatment to what a patient will tolerate and what is appropriate for their age and overall health.
I believe it is important to give a patient’s body time to respond to OMT before retreating so I usually schedule a return appointment for re-evaluation and if necessary further OMT about two weeks after the first treatment. Remember, my goal is to help the body heal itself so I have to allow time for a patient’s body to do this. I have found that most of the time more frequent treatments are not helpful for patients. I believe that people know their bodies well so I will often allow patients to see me on an as needed basis, but I do have several patients who feel better when they receive OMT on a regular schedule every month.
Most insurance plans cover the cost of OMT well and patients who do not have insurance are often approved to receive a discounted cost for their visits to see me which include OMT and other in clinic services such as lab and x-ray tests. I enjoy using OMT to help my own patients but I also enjoy working with patients who already have a primary care physician and communicating closely with their physician while using OMT to help them feel better.
Please feel free to respond with any questions you have about OMT and I will do my best to answer them for you. You may also call my office at 417-267-2001 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
Kevin Presley, D.O.