Orthopeadic Manual Massage Therapy (OMMT) utilizes manipulations, mobilizations, and massage to specifically address musculoskeletal pain and dysfunctions.
OMMT involves the assessment and treatment of joints, muscles, connective tissue, nerves, and other soft tissues. The shorthand term “therapeutic massage” is often used to designate this style of treatment that RMTs are educated to perform. Therapeutic treatments differ greatly from general swedish massage where relaxation is the main goal. It is because RMTs are trained to do therapeutic treatments that they can help alleviate symptoms in a wide range of conditions and syndromes.
The specific mechanisms vary greatly depending on the presenting problem.
For example: Massage may be used to decrease muscle tonicity and increase tissue mobility. From there, mobilization of a nerve could be used to allow proper movement and prevent compression. Manipulations may be used to the specific joints involved, attempting to restore full and efficient movement of the joint capsule and bones involved.
The goal of Orthopaedic Manual Massage Therapy is to reduce pain and dysfunction while improving overall quality of life and performance. Whatever the presenting problem may be, OMMT involves assessment and treatment, utilizing the most appropriate modality for the situation.
This can sometimes lead to treatments focusing on areas or joints that are distant from the pain or dysfunction. Patients usually want massage to the area that hurts for the whole treatment, but often the effect (painful area) and the cause (specific dysfunction leading to pain) are in different areas. Without addressing the cause, the effect will simply return and require further treatment. This is not to say that the effected area will be ignored, but that it will not be treated directly the entire treatment time.
Will it Hurt?
Techniques used within Orthopaedic Manual Therapy can range from completely painless to somewhat painful depending on what the presenting problem is, how long the problem has persisted, and other factors. Clear communication between therapist and patient is vital and will ensure that no technique used ever elicits more pain than the patient can tolerate.