Frequently Asked Questions
What conditions do Certified Osteopathic Manual Practitioners treat?
Certified Osteopathic Manual Practitioners care for patients of all ages, with a variety of health conditions while focusing on the management, treatment, and prevention of musculoskeletal pain without the use of drugs or surgery. Common conditions treated by a practitioner range from back and neck pain, headaches, sports injuries, poor posture, mobility or loss of range of motion. Manual osteopathic treatment will focus on the body's structure as it affects our overall function. Certified Osteopathic Manual Practitioners will work with other qualified health and wellness practitioners to counsel patients on diet, nutrition, exercise, healthy habits, and occupational and lifestyle modification.
Does manual osteopathic treatment require a referral from a medical doctor?
At this time 3rd party direct billing is not allowed. Therefore, a referral is not needed to see a certified manual osteopathic practitioner. It is always best to check with your insurance provider, as they may have specific referral requirements for alternative medical providers—to find out if osteopathic manual therapy is covered by your plan.
Is manual osteopathic treatment safe?
Manual osteopathic therapy globally is recognized as one of the safest drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal and joints complaints throughout the world. Although manual osteopathic treatment has an excellent safety record, no health treatment is completely free of potential adverse effects. The risks associated with manual osteopathic treatment; however, are minimal (discussed with your practitioner). Many patients feel immediate relief following treatment, but some may experience mild soreness or aching, just as they do after some forms of exercise or massage. Current literature shows that minor discomfort or soreness following soft tissue therapy typically fades within 24 hours.
Do insurance plans cover manual osteopathy?
Currently there is no insurance coverage for manual osteopathic care. The Association is working towards legislation to allow for 3rd party direct billing of manual osteopathic care by COMP practitioners.
What to expect out of a typical treatment?
The Certified Osteopathic Manual Practitioners typically use their hands to provide treatments to aid in decreasing pain, spasm, and inflammation while improving mobility, flexibility and function. Osteopathic manual practice is based on the principle that the body has the ability to heal when in alignment. Certified osteopathic manual practitioners focus on strengthening the musculoskeletal systems to treat existing conditions and help to prevent illness.
Is manual osteopathy treatment ongoing?
The hands-on nature of the manual osteopathic treatment is essentially what requires patients to visit the Certified Osteopathic Manual Practitioner (COMP) a number of times. To be treated, a patient needs to visit the practitioner. A COMP may provide acute, chronic, and/or preventive care thus making a certain number of visits sometimes necessary. Your COMP should tell you the extent of treatment recommended and how long you can expect it to last.
How much will a session cost?
This depends on the practitioner providing the service, as well as the length of treatment. Manual osteopathy treatment sessions generally last 30 to 60 minutes. Please contact your local practitioner for further information.
What is the typical treatment duration?
This depends on the condition patient is suffering. Patients generally have two to three treatment sessions per week for one to two weeks. The treatment frequency is then reduced once the condition is managed.
What is the difference between US-Trained DO's and those trained Abroad?
The profession of osteopathy (founded by Dr Andrew Taylor Still) developed in reaction to the frequently harmful medicine being practiced in the United States in the late 1800s. Osteopathy is an American healthcare profession that has continued to evolve in the US through the scientific method of discovery. Today, U.S. osteopathic physicians (DOs) are fully licensed, patient-centered medical doctors. They have full medical practice rights throughout the United States and in 44 countries abroad.
Both American osteopathic physicians and those who studied osteopathy outside the US call themselves osteopaths and use the title of DO. American practitioners are Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DO), Canadian practitioners in the province of Quebec, France and some other European, Asian and South American countries have a Diploma of Osteopathy (DO), and in Spain practitioners have Doctor of Osteopathy (DO). There is, thus, some confusion regarding the difference between U.S osteopathic physicians and osteopaths trained in other countries.
Osteopathy as practiced in the United States in the late 1800s was exported to Europe, and spread to the rest of the world. Treatment highlighted the musculoskeletal manual therapy developed by U.S. osteopathic physicians (and not practiced by allopathic physicians). To this day, osteopaths (the term used for foreign-trained practitioners who practice osteopathic manual therapy) are not physicians. Their training focuses on the musculoskeletal system and they are not licensed to prescribe medications or perform surgeries. They are trained primarily in hands on osteopathic assessment and treatment.
Conversely, there are over 80,000 U.S. trained osteopathic physicians who practice the entire scope of modern medicine, bringing a patient-centered, holistic, hands-on approach to diagnosing and treating illness and injury. U.S. DOs can choose any specialty, prescribe drugs, perform surgeries, and practice medicine anywhere in the United States.
To distinguish the two professions in the United States, the American Association of Osteopathic Manual Practitioners requires its members to use Osteopathic Manual Practice instead of “osteopathy” when referring to what they practice. AAOMPS members are prohibited from calling themselves osteopaths in the States. They must use the title of certified osteopathic manual practitioner (COMP). Additionally members must have available a waiver form that patients sign informing that the member is not a physician and that the services offered are complementary alternative healthcare and not medical in nature.
*For additional information, please refer to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine website.