Healing in the Body's Concept of Time
Should I expect to feel all better after a treatment?
A lot of people feel amazingly better after a treatment at our clinic. Probably over 90% of people feel significantly less pain, more calm, greater range of motion, and/or more aligned with the Universe at the end of an osteopathic treatment. However, osteopathic manipulation (OMT) is not a medication that can be injected or taken to turn off nerves that transmit pain signals. OMT aims at restoring motion within the muscles, soft tissues, and joints, as well as decreasing swelling and normalizing the function of the nerves. It takes time for the nervous system to calm down after a treatment and no longer send signals of discomfort. This calming down process of the nervous system may be instant or it may take one to four days.
After OMT, tight muscles can relax and when this happens the cells within the muscles release waste products that had built up when the muscle was dysfunctional. This metabolic waste is the same type of waste released when one receives a massage, experiences an acute injury, exercises heavily, or even exert themselves more than normal. The metabolic waste that results from OMT results in muscles experiencing some soreness that is slowly washed away by the circulatory system over the following 24-48 hours.
It is generally recommended that one drinks 4-8 eight-ounce glasses of water to help diminish the irritation of the tissues and nerves due to the metabolic waste products that may be released from OMT. There's an old saying in health care, 'the solution to pollution is dilution.' Studies have shown that best outcomes from OMT are achieved both when people drink water after a treatment and were well hydrated prior to OMT. Intuitively, this makes a lot of sense because imagine how hard it is to work with clay, doe, or concrete after it begins to get dried out. Why would our tissues be any different?
Both my goal and yours is to feel better after a treatment. Beyond just caring about my patients, I am required to attain a person’s self-assessment of how they feel at the conclusion of a treatment. A poorly worded query into how a person feels at the end of a treatment often results in them trying to test their body and move in a way that had previously caused pain. To assess the goal of optimized function, I am more apt to ask, “Do you feel freer to move?” or “Do you feel looser?” These questions better honor the osteopathic care that has been administered, as well as recognizing the process and timing of healing that occurs through a patient’s inner healing journey.
Most often people know right away that they feel better than they had prior to the treatment. Occasionally, a person responds that they have continued pain. The next step is to assess if it’s the same pain they had prior to treatment. If their pain is the same, this may result in me using a variety of other means to reduce the discomfort, including acupuncture, more and different OMT, a pain-relieving cream, or applying a special wrap (kinesiotape). This is all done knowing that pain relief is not the main goal of treatment. The main goal of osteopathic care at the Danto Osteopathic Clinic (DOC) is to OPTIMIZE FUNCTION. Ultimately, when working with a person’s body one must accept the body’s concept of time and the body's healing process. Consider the last time you cut yourself or had a bruise and recognize that it takes 4-6 weeks for the body to heal that injury 60-80%. Knowing that time frame is just one of the reasons why I am amazed all day as people leave the DOC usually feeling a lot better than when they walked in for treatment. I feel like I'm witnessing miracles being performed by my patients all day long. Thank you!