Health Watch: Foundation Health Partners shares insights on osteopathic manipulative medicine

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Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 4:47 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Among the different specializations in healthcare, one that residents may not be too familiar with is osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM), and Foundation Health Partners is offering some insight into the practice.

According to Dr. Todd Capistrant, a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine for Foundation Health Partners (FHP), OMM is a form of treatment meant to look at different systems and how they operate as a whole.

“When we look at the body as a whole we look at the musculoskeletal system, the lymphatic system, the blood vessels, all of the things working together,” Dr. Capistrant explained. “Most people will consider us kind of a musculoskeletal clinic but we do deal a lot with structural issues, in newborns all the way up to elderly people. Visceral manipulation is actually a form of treating the organs. But in general, what we’re doing is we’re trying to alter the structure of your body to improve the function of your body. So if you have an abnormal or dysfunctional structure, the idea is that it impacts function - and if we can impact the structure through the soft tissues and muscular system, then we’re able to impact function of your body overall.”

According to Dr. Capistrant, a benefit of this practice is avoiding a more narrow approach to a problem by focusing on the big picture.

“The risk when you look at things compartmentalized or individualized is you run into kind of siloed thinking,” Dr. Capistrant elaborated. “You don’t realize that everything is interconnected, and that’s a huge part of the osteopathic perspective that you as a person... you aren’t a heart, you aren’t set of lungs, you’re a whole system. So if the collaborative groups aren’t collaborating in the medical world, sometimes things get overlooked. Now, fortunately, we have great practitioners that understand that the body works systematically as a unit. With the osteopathic principle, it becomes kind of our foundation. So it’s ever-present in our mind that the body is a whole and it can heal itself, and that is a huge difference from, ‘I’m a specialist and I only work on the musculoskeletal system. I don’t work on anything else.’ It’s all interconnected.”

With methods used in this practice, according to Dr. Capistrant, it can be a more cost effective alternative. “It depends on the issue we’re talking about,” he continued. “If you’re having abdominal pain, you want to make sure there’s nothing urgent, like a medical emergency going on. If you’re having a sprain and strain or musculoskeletal complaints, OMM is a great place to start first. It’s often cost effective. We rely on imaging but it’s not our first step. We tend to use our hands to evaluate and document things, and a lot of times it tends to be a simple treatment that we can move you along without having to go down a more expensive route. We can order the imaging if it’s needed, but it’s not where we start.”

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