Frequently Asked Questions
What is an Osteopathic Physician?
Osteopathic Physicians (DOs) are fully licensed physicians and often train side by side with MDs in internship and residency training. A DO may be a surgeon, obstetrician, or any other medical specialist. In osteopathic medical school, they receive standard medical science education and often as much as 500 hours of anatomy and training in osteopathic musculoskeletal evaluation and treatment. In addition to using standard methods of diagnosis and treatment, they use a system of manual techniques to diagnose areas of structural dysfunction and to assist and balance the motion and function in the body’s tissues and fluids. Rather than simply finding something to make symptoms go away, DOs are trained to find the underlying cause of the problem. Osteopathic training differs from allopathic (MD) training in its emphasis on encouraging the patient’s inner healing mechanisms based on the science and complexity of the human body.
What happens during a visit?
Your first visit lasts approximately one hour in which your health history is reviewed, a physical exam is performed, and if appropriate, an osteopathic treatment is given. Follow-up evaluations typically last about 30 minutes and occur 1-2 weeks later. The physician will use his or her hands to find areas of restriction in your bones, muscles, and connective tissues that can be contributing to your symptoms. This may or may not be the area in which you are experiencing discomfort. Osteopathic treatment is hands-on and can involve articulation (popping), moderate or firm pressure to balance the connective tissues, or very subtle, slow movements which you may or may not perceive. Some patients respond better to certain kinds of treatments than others and we work with you to find the best treatment approach for you. Often you will feel very relaxed during and following a treatment and may feel that way for the next few days.
What should I expect after the treatment?
It is normal to experience mild post-treatment soreness for a few days while the structures of your body respond to the treatment. It is important to drink plenty of water for a few days following treatment to keep your muscles and bones well-hydrated and to allow healing to continue. We often recommend that you do not perform strenuous exercise for a few days to allow the effects of the treatment to take place. Walking is generally ok. It is important to pay attention to what your body is telling you and if you feel tired or sore, please take it easy and get a little extra rest.
When should I expect to feel better?
Response to treatment depends on many factors including age, complexity and chronicity of your problem, and other aspects of your health. Often problems that you have had for only a few days or weeks will resolve with one treatment, while more longstanding issues will respond more slowly. At each visit you will be re-evaluated and the treatment approach may vary depending on how you are responding. If necessary, another treatment modality may be recommended.
What should I wear to my appointment?
Please wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing, or bring some with you, when possible. For women, pants are preferred. Please do not wear perfumes and strong fragrances as some individuals have chemical sensitivities.
Can you be my primary care physician?
We cannot. Our practice is a specialty practice devoted to consultations for Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment in the management of the full spectrum of a patient’s health concerns. Although we are fully licensed physicians in both Family Medicine and Neuromusculoskeletal/Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, we do not provide routine annual examinations or medication management for medical conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes. We do, on occasion, prescribe medication on a short term basis. We are happy to work with your primary care physician and other specialists to assist in the coordination of your care.
What is the difference between Cranial Osteopathy and Cranio-Sacral treatment?
William Garner Sutherland, DO was an osteopathic physician in the 1940′s and 50′s who realized that the bones and membranes of the skull, the brain, the cerebrospinal fluid, and the sacrum should have normal motion to allow optimal health. After many years of study, he developed a treatment approach that has been in use by the osteopathic profession since that time. Cranial osteopathy involves a deep understanding of and respect for the relationship between these tissues and the use of cranial manipulation to encourage the body’s ability to heal itself. Many cranio-sacral techniques are based on Dr. Sutherland’s original teachings. The largest difference between Cranial Osteopathy and cranio-sacral therapy is the amount of training of the practitioner. Most cranio-sacral practitioners are massage therapists, physical therapists, or other types of body-workers. Cranio-sacral therapists do not have the extensive medical school and residency training that osteopathic physicians have undergone. There is no licensing, regulation, or continuing education required to practice cranio-sacral therapy, and while practitioners may have good skills and success, their training may have been as minimal as a weekend course.
What is the difference between an Osteopathic Physician and a Chiropractor?
A chiropractor is not a licensed physician and has not completed medical school or residency training in a hospital. In addition to medical school and residency, osteopathic physicians are required to complete 120-150 hours of continuing medical education every three years. Typically, chiropractic is oriented more toward manipulating specific vertebrae and making sure the spine is aligned. Osteopaths believe that health is more than just vertebral alignment, rather that structure and function of all of the parts of the body are interrelated. They address muscles, bones, ligaments, the nervous system, and the fluids of the body and seek to normalize these tissues so that the patient’s innate healing forces can do their job. Also chiropractors often require multiple visits within one week. Osteopathic physicians feel that the healing occurs between visits and that the body needs time to allow this to occur.
Who can benefit from Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine?
OMT can be helpful to people of all ages, from immediately after birth to the end of life. Osteopathic care addresses the full spectrum of a patient’s healthcare concerns. This does not mean that osteopathic treatment is a cure-all. Instead it is meant to complement other aspects of healthcare, helping a patient to achieve their optimal state of healing. In many situations, OMM is the missing piece in a patient’s healing process, when more standard treatment approaches have failed.
Are there any contraindications to the use of Osteopathic treatment?
There are rarely, if ever, contraindications to the use of osteopathic treatment; however, there may be a particular technique or approach that might not be appropriate for an individual patient based upon their condition or their preferences. Even patients with serious illnesses or structural instabilities can be treated effectively and safely.
Do I need to do specific exercises?
Depending on your individual situation and problem, you may be instructed in specific exercises to help improve your body’s function and posture. We will also work with you in terms of your regular home exercise program to make sure that you are not doing too much or too little exercise, and we will help determine the best approach for you.
What other treatment approaches may be implemented?
Sometimes nutrition or stress management counseling may be implemented based on the underlying cause of your symptoms. We often discuss other treatment options. We work with you to help you find an approach that feels good to you and that can be the most effective for your individual situation and medical circumstances.
Is it covered by insurance?
As of May 1st, 2023, Rivertree Osteopathic Health no longer accepts private insurance or MaineCare. Full payment is required at scheduling or the time of the appointment. This is due to increasing challenges to small private practices including decreased reimbursement and high administrative costs. Our rates are well below the average for osteopathic manipulation in Maine and some out of pocket costs are lower. In many cases insurance will reimburse you for care at our office and we will provide you with a superbill at the time of your visit. We will continue to submit claims for Medicare and its supplements through 2023. MaineCare visits are discounted as they do not allow submission of superbills for reimbursement.
- Standard established patient visit (45 minutes) $190
- New patient appointment (60 minutes) $230
- Children under 12 (30 minutes) $130
- MaineCare discounted visit (45 minutes) $160
- Limited established patient visit (15 minutes) $70
We look forward to seeing you. Please contact us with any questions or concerns.