16 Benefits Of Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy (OMT)

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

The use of osteopathic manipulative therapy can be helpful for some people, but there are also some potential side effects of which you should be aware of.

What is OMT?

Osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMT) is a specialized form of osteopathic medicine in which pressure is applied to certain joints, tissues, and bones to release tension, encourage blood flow, and promote normal healing. If your range of motion has been impacted by injuries to the joints or muscles, moving those tissues around can help to remedy discomfort and other problems. While it does involve applying pressure to potentially sensitive areas, this therapy shouldn’t hurt. There is still some debate over the efficacy of osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM), but anecdotal evidence and a good amount of research can back up its positive results. [1]

Close-up top view of osteopath doing healing treatment on female shoulder blade

Osteopathic manipulation attempts to improve joint range of motion. Photo Credit: Shutterstock


There are more than 40 different techniques and approaches to this type of hands-on therapy, including the following. [2]

  • Soft Tissue Technique: This approach relates to stretching and pressing muscles.
  • Thrust Technique: Applying high-velocity and low-amplitude force on a joint’s motion.
  • Counterstrain Technique: By moving a joint to a place where there is no pain or discomfort, and then holding it for 90 seconds.
  • Muscle Energy Technique: You move your muscles or joints in one direction, while the physician applies force in the opposing direction.


There are many potential benefits of osteopathic manipulative therapy, including its ability to heal injuries, relieve headaches and migraines, and aid in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, among many others. [3]

  • Reduces chronic knee and muscle pain
  • Improves sleep quality and eliminates insomnia
  • Heals injuries
  • Normalizes breathing and respiratory function
  • Treats carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Relieves digestive issues
  • Gives relief from cardiovascular problems
  • Fights drug and alcohol addiction
  • Prevents kidney disease
  • Lowers effects of hypertension
  • Relieves symptoms of arthritis or degenerative joint diseases
  • Treats sinus disorders
  • Lowers back and neck pain [4]
  • Prevents pneumonia
  • Reduces headaches and migraines
  • Relieves painful premenstrual symptoms
  • Improves motor control and coordination

Side Effects

Before beginning this type of OMT, you must be completely honest with the practitioner about past and current medical conditions, as this can affect which OMT approach they take. Furthermore, there can be some physical side effects of this therapy, such as the following: [5]

  • Headaches
  • Soreness in the affected areas
  • Migraines
  • Fatigue

This is normal, but should not persist for more than a day or two. If you have certain medical conditions, such as blood clots, cancer, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, or fractures, you should avoid this therapy.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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