What is Osteopathy?
has been defined as a comprehensive system of diagnosis and treatment
based on the interrelationship of anatomy (structure) and physiology
(function). The entire body, if adequately nourished, functions
to heal and maintain itself best when all parts are in correct relationship
to one another and free to move within their normal range of motion.
Resistance to disease depends on normal blood and nerve supply. This
is achieved by the Osteopath through a wide range of manual techniques
that removes all unnatural restrictions to motion, thus freeing circulation
- and with it the immune system.
effectively set the stage for deep healing by encouraging the body's
own powerful healing mechanisms to manifest its fullest strength.
As this is usually a foreign concept to Western culture, Dr. Reiss has
given this simple example during lectures: she recounts that in
the Emergency Room, a patient would come in with a deep cut across a
finger. She would clean the wound, dress the sides, and stitch
it closed. In 10 days, the patient would return to have the stitches
removed from the now-healed injury. Dr. Reiss didn't heal the
finger, the body did. She was merely setting the stage; aiding
What is an example
of how Traditional Osteopathy works?
A patient comes in complaining of chronic neck pain and headaches.
She has gone everywhere and tried everything with little success.
Her primary care physician gave her a prescription for muscle relaxants
and pain killers, her massage therapist tried deep-tissue work, and
her chiropractor, finding the same vertebrae always out of alignment, successfully
used weekly high-velocity adjustments. An Osteopathic physician,
however, finds strains in connective tissues that run down the full
length of the body. During a focused discussion on her medical
history, the patient remembers falling off her bike while a pre-teen,
when she severely twisted her ankle. For weeks, she took the pressure
off that foot by walking off-balance. Her body adjusted imperceptibly
by shifting the pelvis, which twisted the spine, which tilted the shoulders,
which restricted circulation going to the head area. These compensations
in the body took place over years, slowly hardening into semi-permanence.
The Osteopath focuses first not on the head but on the ankle, to relieve
the initial trauma, and over some time eliminates all the misalignments
and strains all the way up. The underlying problem was not in
the head or neck, but in the ankle. Until that was released, all
other therapies treated only the symptoms.
How is an Osteopath
different from a Chiropractor or Massage Therapist?
Osteopaths are fully licensed physicians with credentials equal to that
of MDs. They have, of all healthcare professionals, the most comprehensive
knowledge available on the function, dysfunction, and interaction of
all the body’s systems. The philosophy and goal of Traditional
Osteopathy is global in scope - to remove all restrictions to full
body motion and circulation, thereby improving the functioning
of the immune system. They do this by listening intently to the
quiet wisdom of the body, by making connection with the fundamental
energy within the body, and guiding it back into balance and vitality.
Osteopaths use gently powerful penetrating manipulation performed on
all body tissues - bones, muscles, organs, and all connective tissue
- from head to toe. Unlocked from the body are the remnants of
old physical and emotional traumas, which frees the full healing powers
of the body. In addition, Osteopaths can utilize all tools of
modern medicine and can prescribe drugs when necessary.
For those who have never experienced it, Osteopathic manipulation is
difficult to describe, as it is unlike any other form of manual therapy.
It is not massage, Reiki, and seldom if ever are high-velocity spinal
adjustments used. Many patients cannot even feel most of the Osteopath's
most effective techniques. One patient of Dr. Reiss' actually
said in the middle of her first visit for a severe chronic back spasm,
"Not for nothing, doctor, but it doesn't feel like you're doing
anything!" However, she got off the table, straightened up
for the first time in days without pain, and did not even need a follow-up
Over the past century, small aspects of Osteopathy have inspired popular
offshoot therapies - chiropractic, craniosacral, and rolfing being the
best known. For instance, D. D. Palmer, a successful grocer and
the first chiropractor, started his new trade after mastering one vertebrae
adjustment technique from Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, the originator of
How can Osteopathy
be so beneficial for so many conditions?
Most people in Western cultures tend to associate certain
therapies as helping only certain health problems, even in holistic
medicine. Osteopathy's reach is nearly unlimited, because it works
to strengthen and restore the body's own powerful healing energies.
D.O.s understand that within the body is the ultimate physician, and
that it is the Osteopath's role to bring that inner health forth.
They do that primarily through their manual techniques to remove restrictions
to motion in the body - both in structure and in circulation.
All cells of the body require nutrients delivered, waste products removed,
and nerve signals flowing to function properly. The more unencumbered
the body is at doing these basic tasks everywhere, the healthier it
can operate. Osteopaths free up these pathways, allowing the body
to do what it does best - heal and maintain itself.
Does Dr. Reiss
offer Cranial or Craniosacral Therapy?
Yes, one of the major sub-specialties of Osteopathic Manipulative
Medicine that Dr. Reiss performs is "Cranial Osteopathy."
Developed by William Sutherland, D.O. in the 1930's, Cranial Osteopathy
is the original and most comprehensive form, practiced only by licensed
physicians, that all other cranial therapies, including "craniosacral,"
are derived from.
How many visits
will I need? (back
While this is a common question, it cannot be easily answered.
Every person responds to treatment in an entirely unique fashion.
Typically, Dr. Reiss likes to see new patients once a week for a short
while. This may be just a few visits for an acute problem, though
perhaps a couple months for decades-long chronic or degenerative conditions.
If a near-weekly rate of visit cannot be achieved, then progress may
not be as rapid. Once some substantial improvement is seen, the
frequency of visits can be reduced - towards the goal of needing just
The path to health
is also not always a straight one. Often, early in the course
of successful holistic treatments, a patient experiences a seeming setback
in his or her conditions with a temporary return of old pain or illness
symptoms. This is referred to as a Healing
Response or "healing crisis." It is brought
about by the sudden release chemically of long-stored toxins or energetically
of long-held traumas. There may also be parts of the body, having
grown use to misalignment or lack of motion, that may be at first irritated
by a restoration of proper structure. The time it takes for the
body to process the changes and clear out the waste is at most usually
just several days. Since it is necessary in full healing for the
elimination of these obstacles, the patient is strongly encouraged to
resist the natural urge to cease treatment or suppress symptoms with
over-the-counter drugs. Rather, we suggest our patients call our
office for guidance should they experience any discomfort or problems
after a treatment.
Does Dr. Reiss
prescribe drugs? (back
Yes, but only rarely. For conventional medical care,
which normally includes prescription drugs, Dr. Reiss advises that patients
go to their conventional primary care doctor. She chooses not
to direct time away from the holistic modalities she studies and practices.
For some acute needs, Dr. Reiss may possibly prescribe a medication
necessary to see the patient through the time needed to get to their
primary care doctor.
Does Dr. Reiss
use alternative lab tests (allergy, saliva, hair, stool) to guide treatment?
Some healthcare providers who maintain a "holistic"
practice rely heavily on lab results from non-conventional testing facilities. Dr.
Reiss also will occasionally recommends certain limited tests that are
well-recognized by either holistic or conventional physicians.
She will do this to rule out a serious condition requiring added conventional
care or to establish a baseline to gauge progress. However, she
has seen many laboratory tests across the medical spectrum used as a
means to simply catalog more symptoms of the underlying imbalance in
the body or spirit. Her work in Osteopathy, though, by utilizing
all five senses acutely trained, can find that underlying cause and
restore health. Once that occurs, all those measurable perimeters
will return to normal without the aggressive isolated therapies those
tests might suggest.
Does Dr. Reiss
use any tools or equipment?
The doctor uses only her hands for all Osteopathic
treatments - occasionally assisted by a "Fulford Percussor,"
picured on the right. This is a hand-held variable-speed vibrating
paddle, developed by her mentor Robert Fulford, D.O., that is used to
gently break through and release deep, tough restrictions. Dr.
Reiss achieves this, much in the same way Ella Fitzgerald could vibrate
a glass into shattering by singing the right note, by holding the paddle
lightly against the skin at a specific location after selecting the
speed to match the body tissue's vibrational frequency. It's very
soothing; for our child patients it is called the "tickle machine."
Does Dr. Reiss
request x-rays be taken?
No, the doctor often find x-rays and other images techniques
to be of little or no use in her practice. These images are 2-dimensional
and static, exactly what a living body is not. She typically finds
her Osteopathic touch to be far more effective in diagnosis and treatment
for removing restrictions to full motion and circulation. The
rare request for medical imaging may be when Dr. Reiss suspects, through
her years of experience in ER medicine, a fracture or potentially debilitating
condition that would be best treated with the addition of conventional
Does Dr. Reiss
use Homeopathy or any other holistic modalities?
The doctor has studied many holistic modalities and is informed
on many others, but she focuses on Traditional Osteopathy and on a secondary
level nutrition and
lifestyle counseling. Homeopathy has significant philosophical
overlap with Osteopathy, but it is a field of study as large and complex
as any in medicine when practiced properly, and thus Dr. Reiss would
recommend patients find a dedicated homeopathic professional for those
What age groups
does Dr. Reiss treat? (back
All ages, from birth to elder passing. Infants and
young children actually respond quickly to Osteopathic treatment, as
the body has not yet hardened into its dysfunction. She treats
pregnant women to ease delivery and relieve stresses on the pre-born
infant. Dr. Reiss can also use Osteopathy on the terminally ill
to help ease their final transition.
Does Dr. Reiss offer primary care?
Dr. Reiss is a Board Certified Family Physician. However, as a
holistic specialist in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, she asks all
patients who need medication management, periodic laboratory testing,
drug treatment for acute illnesses, or other conventional therapies
to continue with their current primary physician. She will then
provide complementary holistic therapy coordinated with that doctor.
If you are not in need of such regulated conventional care, Dr. Reiss
may be able to provide the level of primary care you need to improve
and maintain your health. Since every established patient has
a dedicated ˝ hour often scheduled many weeks in advance, and we do
not overbook, medical emergencies cannot always be accommodated immediately.
However, all possible effort will be made to schedule patients with
acute needs as soon as possible.
Does Dr. Reiss accept insurance?
Dr. Reiss is a Medicare provider. We also work with a patient's
commercial insurance company when they have out-of-network benefits,
like a PPO or POS plan. Follow this link to more information in
our Office section,
or please contact us for specific details regarding your coverage.
Do I have to stop seeing my other holistic
care givers? (back
While some of Dr. Reiss's Osteopathic colleagues prefer that their
patients not see chiropractors or other body workers for fear of that
other practitioner undoing the still-fresh restoration of structure,
she herself does not normally advise on such prohibitions. Many
of the doctor's patients enjoy seeing other healthcare therapists concurrently,
and Dr. Reiss does not wish to intrude upon those relationships.
If there is an area of anatomical delicacy or special concern, the doctor
will notify her patients to have other therapists avoid the spot or
treat them with extreme care.
Why isn't Osteopathy better known?
There may be no better reason than poor marketing. About 5% of
all physicians in the United States are D.O.s. However, for much
of the past 50 years, this group has been pulled internally in
opposite directions of the medical spectrum. The majority (90%)
has spent much of its resources educating that D.O.s are the equivalent
as MDs, and in fact practice conventional medicine in an identical fashion
as their MD counterparts. However, the small 10% remainder has
been trying to emphasize the unique differences from MDs - the holistic
training and manual therapies that only D.O.s can offer. With
no consensus within their own profession, little outward public awareness
has thus been realized about the special and powerful nature of Osteopathic
I do not live
close enough to see Dr. Reiss. Where can I find a holistic doctor
who does similar work? (back
The blend of holistic services that Dr. Reiss offers (as
pictured on our Home Page) is, to her knowledge, unique in the United
States. However, if you are looking for a Traditional manipulating
Osteopath, we recommend contacting the