An Osteopathic Approach to Fibromyalgia

Michael A. Seffinger

An osteopathic approach to the patient entails viewing all aspects of health (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) as a combination of coordinated body functions that make up that unique individual patient. It is a patient-centered focus, emphasizing health- oriented principles of patient care and adds the osteopathic touch—i.e., hands on manual diagnosis and treatment to address mechanical dysfunctions that impede normal motion throughout the body. Joint motion is essential in each body region as it facilitates vascular and lymphatic drainage from the region back to the general circulation. The osteopathic philosophy is founded on core beliefs about health, disease and patient care that can be summarized in four basic tenets that stem from the sciences of anatomy and physiology.

Though we learn anatomy and physiology in parts and systems, the first tenet recognizes that the person is a dynamic unified whole, not the mere compilation of unrelated anatomical parts or physiologic systems.

… The second tenet stresses that the body is capable of self-regulation, self healing, and health maintenance.This capability is inherent, but at times may require assistance in the form of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), surgery, exercise, nutritional advice, medications, or counseling. The third tenet states that structure and function are inter-related at all levels. Altered form leads to altered function; altered function leads to altered form. This is true at the molecular, cellular, tissue and organ levels. In assessing the patient, a search for areas of altered form and function within the neuromusculoskeletal and other systems will help identify entry points for treatment using OMT and other therapies. The fourth tenet, that rational treatment is based upon the three previous principles emphasizing the need to consider the unity of the human body, mind and spirit, the patient’s self-healing and regulatory capabilities, and the inter- relationship between structure and function in developing a management plan.

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