All Osteopathic Physicians who choose to use their hands in diagnosis and treatment generally strive for the same ultimate result: restoration of normal structure and function. This goal is approached with an understanding that unimpeded transport of vital "information" created by the body, throughout the body, is the basis of osteopathic treatment. The "information" is packaged as nutrients, hormones or chemicals, and electricity, and it is carried via fluids within the body, including lymphatic, cerebrospinal and blood. The unimpeded transport requires ease and alignment in the fascial, musculoskeletal and arthrodial systems. All parts of the body rely on this unimpeded transport to maintain Health.
"All diseases are mere effects, the cause being a partial or complete failure of the nerves to properly conduct the fluids of life."—A.T. Still
Further, once this ease and alignment is restored, the organism once again functionally regulates normal maintenance of health
"All remedies necessary to health exist in the human body. They can be administered by adjusting the body in such a manner that the remedies may naturally associate themselves together, hear the cries, and relieve the afflicted."—A.T. Still
In striving towards this state of ease and normal physiology, Osteopathic Physicians use one or more of the following three models of practice; Biomechanical, Functional or Biodynamic. These models are explained below. Using any of these three models of treatment, an Osteopath may treat your whole body – the musculoskeletal system, the >visceral system, the nervous system, the cranio-sacral mechanism and so on.
Treatment techniques can often but not always be classified as falling within a particular model. For example HVLA (high velocity low amplitude) is a technique that resembles a chiropractic adjustment – the body is positioned in a particular way and an external force is applied to move the bone "back into place." Because of the application of force, and because the idea is to achieve biomechanical symmetry, this can be considered a Biomechanical Technique. On the other hand, some techniques can be performed using one or more models. Compression of the fourth Ventricle (CV-4) is a technique developed by William Sutherland the father of Cranial Osteopathy, and it can be performed from a Biomechanical, Functional or Biodynamic approach.
Treatment techniques are also often categorized as direct or indirect. In both the Functional and Biodynamic model direct techniques are not used. In the Biomechanical model both direct and indirect techniques can be employed.