Marie Lathim was in a nasty wreck last fall.
Her car was totaled. Though she escaped life-threatening injuries, whiplash and other issues have been causing her pain ever since.
But the Kennewick woman recently has found some relief — not in surgery or heavy-duty medication, but in a local doctor’s healing touch.
Lathim is undergoing osteopathic manipulative treatment at Trios Health. For her, it’s been powerful.
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“It’s helped. It’s like massage, but with pressure points. I’m noticing differences,” she said. “I’ve tried other things as well, but he seems to have the magic touch.”
The “he” she’s talking about is Dr. Alwin Borgmann, Trios’ chief resident in family medicine.
Like all of Trios’ residents — physicians who are completing the intensive hands-on training period that comes after medical school — Borgmann is a doctor of osteopathic medicine, or DO.
It’s like massage, but with pressure points. I’m noticing differences.
DOs are licensed physicians, just like MDs. They diagnose disease and injury, prescribe medication and treat all manner of conditions in all medical specialties.
They also emphasize a holistic approach, looking to options such as osteopathic manipulative treatment — shortened to OMT — to help in patient care.
In OMT, doctors use techniques such as stretching, pressure and resistance.
“Most often people think of massage therapy, physical therapy or chiropractics — it’s some combination of that. But we kind of have our own spin on what we do,” Borgmann said.
In an exam room on a recent day, Borgmann had Lathim recline back. He placed his hands at the base of her neck and applied gentle pressure.
Later, he had her raise her arms and applied counter pressure. He also worked on her back, pressing on connective tissue in a technique called myofascial release.
All the while, he spoke to Lathim in a soft, soothing voice — checking in on how she was feeling, making adjustments when needed.
Lathim said she has been able to avoid using painkillers after the wreck, thanks to OMT.
Lathim said the treatment isn’t painful.
“It feels like if you were to go for a deep massage, only they’re focusing on a certain area and applying pressure. I almost feel an energy going through one area and into another,” she said.
Sometimes she’s sore after treatment, but that quickly goes away. She’s been able to avoid using painkillers after the wreck, thanks to OMT, she said.
Borgmann said people sometimes liken the treatment to magic, but it’s not. It’s simply another tool physicians can use to aid their patients, he said.
It can be used to help with everything from asthma to headaches, sinus disorders, sports injuries and other trauma.
Like Trios, Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland also has a residency program. It accepts residents with MD or DO degrees.
Lathim said she’d recommend OMT to anyone.
Most often people think of massage therapy, physical therapy or chiropractics — it’s some combination of that.
Dr. Alwin Borgmann, Trios’ chief resident in family medicine
“A lot of times, you’ll go somewhere, and in 5 minutes you’re in and you’re out. But (Borgmann) actually takes the time — and I’m sure he’s running 100 miles a minute — but he takes that time. He really listens to the patient. (And) he has a sixth sense or something. I’m lying there and I think, ‘It’s this spot.’ And he’ll say, ‘Let me try over here,’ and it all connects,” she said.
“That personal approach makes a difference,” she added. ‘This is really personal and it’s really specialized.”
Borgmann treats patients at Trios Health’s family medicine residency clinic. To reach him or other residents trained in OMT, call 509-221-5520.