Manual osteopathic therapy (MOT) uses hands-on skills for investigation and treatment of body dysfunctions.  The whole body is examined and mechanical disruptions are treated whether symptoms exist or not.

For example, a client who experiences right shoulder pain can expect a manual osteopathic therapist to examine the joint and soft tissue around the shoulder and also:

  • assess the pelvis, because if it is imbalanced, it will drop the shoulder and create a strain
  • check the spinal column, because inflamed nerves can send pain to the shoulder
  • palpate the liver and gall bladder, because dysfunction in those organs can radiate pain to the right shoulder
  • assess the fluid dynamics in and out of the shoulder, because congestion is linked with pain

When imbalances are found, they are gently treated with techniques that engage the dysfunctional tissue until normal function is achieved.  Joints are mobilized by muscle-resisted techniques, while soft tissue is restored to healthier states and fluids are released from congested areas and gently flushed in the direction of drainage.  Changes are often felt immediately or shortly after the treatment.

Manual osteopathic therapy exists somewhere in between chiropractic therapy and massage therapy.  Joints are aligned without a thrust and symptoms resolved with more than just soft tissue manipulation.


The initial 90-minute appointment with a manual osteopathic therapist includes an extensive assessment and first treatment.  The therapist will start off by asking the client about the issues for which they are seeking help, which often include pain relief, stiffness, fatigue and poor posture.  They will then obtain a chronological history covering trauma, accidents and injuries, as well as any chronic conditions.  General health concerns, including stress, nutrition, sleep and exercise habits may also be discussed.

Next, the therapist will leave the room to allow the client to disrobe.  It is suggested that the client bring shorts, or shorts and a sports bra, to wear during the physical assessment and treatment.

The therapist will then begin the physical assessment, using visual investigation and palpation, a diagnostic skill used by a therapist to feel or sense the state of the tissues or systems being examined.  Palpation encompasses the many sensory aspects of touch, such as the ability to detect moisture, texture, temperature differential and subtle motion.  The therapist palpates by gently yet intentionally touching the tissues or systems under examination.

While the client is standing, the therapist will observe the client’s standing posture, distribution of weight, preferential movement patterns and evidence of congestion, inflammation, restriction or protection.  Next, the patient will be asked to perform a series of simple movements, each directed toward determining the nature of specific elements of function.  The assessment is continued with the patient in a seated position and then lying on the treatment table.

Combining the client’s history with the results of the assessment, the therapist will develop a carefully structured treatment plan, which is explained to the client.  Once the patient has understood and consented to the plan, the treatment can begin.

Treatment may include osteo-articular adjustments (affecting bones and joints), cranial-sacral applications (affecting the head, spinal column and sacrum), visceral normalization (affecting various organs) and fascial release (affecting connective tissue).  During treatment, light, intentional contact with the tissues will be made.  The therapist will combine sensory palpation with application of a very specific and deliberate motion, albeit small, to the intended tissue.

In the case of osteo-articular adjustments, the motion imparted is quite soft, while with visceral normalizations, cranial-sacral application or fascial release, a sense of mild pressure might be obvious to the client.

The therapist may use direct treatment, where the tissue is moved into a more natural or correct position, or indirect treatment, where the tissue is moved more toward the problem or strain pattern than toward the correction, allowing relaxation of the tissue.

Manual osteopathic therapy is covered by the following insurance companies (consult your plan for coverage details):
Blue Cross, Chamber of Commerce, CINUP, Cooperators, Desjardins, Equitable Life, Green Shield, Group Insurance, Johnston Group, Manulife, Maximum Benefits, Sun Life

MANUAL OSTEOPATHIC THERAPY is offered at our Saskatoon location by ASHTON KLASSEN.