Touch--more than a basic science

J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2012 Aug;112(8):514-7.


The potency of touch in osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is physically realized within the musculoskeletal, immune, nervous, and endocrine systems. Psychologically, touch supports a verbal and tactile interaction that is both diagnostic and therapeutic. Touch is a 2-way street that adds meaning and depth to the patient-physician experience. The relationship between touching and being touched offers a potentially powerful and intense deepening of the patient-physician relationship that emerges within the palpatory examination and treatment. Empathic communication, through word or deed, allows a therapeutic, synchronized healing to occur. In the present article, the authors provide a rationale to sensitize and invigorate osteopathic physicians to routinely evaluate and treat patients using their skillful touch.

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Empathy*
  • Humans
  • Manipulation, Osteopathic / methods*
  • Palpation
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Psychophysics
  • Systems Theory
  • Touch*