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Osteopathic Medicine for Cancer Care

Osteopathic Medicine

Cancer patients, including those suffering from mesothelioma, are consistently looking for ways to address the pain of their disease and the stress of dealing with the diagnosis of a terminal illness. Furthermore, most cancer patients who are undergoing traditional treatments, including mesothelioma chemotherapy and radiation, are consistently in search of ways to overcome the unpleasant side effects of those treatments without adding more prescription drugs to their daily regimen. That’s why many patients turn to complementary therapies to combat these issues.

Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) is just one of those therapies that cancer patients have explored. Described as a hands-on treatment that can address a number of different ailments, OMT involves the use of the practitioner’s hands to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness or injury. In the case of asbestos cancer patients, OMT is generally used to address pain and relieve tension.

How Does it Work?

Osteopathic medicine focuses on the role of the musculoskeletal system in health and in the treatment of disease. Osteopathic physicians (DOs) use a wide range of manual treatments to stimulate the healing powers they believe are inside everyone’s body. Usually these treatments are combined with traditional medical care including prescription drugs.

OMT comes in a few different forms. Many practitioners employ the use of craniosacral therapy, which involves the manipulation of the skull. This gentle hands-on therapy is believed to restore the balance to a stressed body, hence, encouraging its own healing powers. The practitioner simply applies a soft touch to the skull and spinal cord area in an effort to release any restrictions in the craniosacral system.

Similarly, visceral manipulation (VM) involves manipulating the visceral organs such as the stomach and intestines, also striving to unblock restrictions in the connections between these organs and the rest of the body. VM may also involve pulling of joints and muscles to stretch and loosen them or light massage.

Does it Benefit the Cancer Patient?

Most osteopathic physicians (DOs) make it clear that OMT does not offer a cure for cancer nor does it impact the biology of cancer cells in any way so that they cease to multiply. However, patients attest to the fact that they usually feel better after they’ve undergone OMT, which has been proven to have a positive impact on problems such as headaches, joint and muscle pain, fatigue, and some of the common side effects of cancer treatment, perhaps even nausea. Many malignant mesothelioma patients who successfully use osteopathic medicine as a complementary treatment also cite the reduction of feelings of stress and anxiety after their treatment.

Are There Risks?

As with all complementary therapies, the patient who is considering OMT should always inform the practitioner of their disease before undergoing treatment. Because OMT involves manual manipulation of various parts of the body, including joints and muscles, any cancer patient whose disease has spread to the bones is generally not a candidate for OMT. Most practitioners will also avoid manipulating the cancer-affected area in fear that stimulating the circulation in the area of the tumor may prompt the spread of the disease, though there is no scientific evidence that this is the case.

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