Achieving Total Body Wellness

Interviewed by Melissa Moniz
Wednesday - July 30, 2008
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Karen E. Sept, D.O.

Karen E. Sept, D.O.
Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine

Where did you receive your schooling and training?

At the College of Osteopathic Medicine in the Pacific in Paloma, Calif. But I grew up in Idaho, and I went to the College of Idaho.

What is osteopathy?

Andrew Taylor Still founded osteopathy. He grew up during the Civil War and he had three of his children die of spinal meningitis. He thought that there had to be something else. So he began studying anatomy and understanding how structure and function are interrelated, and how the body, mind and spirit interconnect and how everything is connected and interrelated, and that the body has the ability to heal itself. So he opened up this school of osteopathy. He taught students how to develop their palpatory skills and use that to help people not only get well, but stay well.

So is it preventative medicine?

It is preventative. You can often get a sense that there’s something going on inside someone before they actually have the symptoms. Our nerves for our organs go in and out of the spinal cord at the same places that the nerves to our muscles go in and out. It runs right alongside of our spine, so you can feel those changes. If you’re passing a kidney stone, as that moves down the tube from the kidney to the bladder you can feel that in the back. It moves down from one layer to the next because those muscles begin to have spasms. It’s really amazing.

What ailments do most of the patients you treat come in for?

I think pain is probably the most motivating factor that people have that they come in for. Whether it’s headaches or sports injuries or back pain. But even things like chronic ear infections, chronic sinus infections, because basically it’s like a plumbing problem. It’s kind of like when your kitchen sink gets all clogged up, you can pour Clorox in it and it won’t stink so much, and that’s like the antibiotic. But if you don’t do something to take care of the blockage then it’s just going to get stinky again. So osteopathy can really help the body’s inherent mechanism that is meant to move work better, so things can continually drain.

Karen Sept works on a patient at her Kailua office
Karen Sept works on a patient at her Kailua office

Can you explain treatment?

Usually, when I see someone for the very first time, I spend a couple of hours with them because I want to ask them all the questions that you would be asked with a physical. But I also want to find out things like if you had injuries as a kid, because our bodies have memories about all of those things. And I want to find out about eating, sleeping and exercising to see if there are any ways that I can help their overall level of well-being, so the inner healing ability can really work to its fullest. And the other thing that is different, too, is that I will do a structural exam. I will check to see how things are lined up. And then I’ll check to see how things work with movement. Once I’ve done that, then I’ll have a sense of where the major areas of restriction are and what we need to do in order to relieve that, so your body’s own healing ability can function well. Then I will use the osteopathic manipulative techniques, which are pretty gentle. I’m working with the fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds your whole body. It is so extensive that it surrounds all our bones, muscles and organs. It’s that fascia that really holds all the memories of force.

The other technique I use is muscle energy to even muscles out and realign everything again. And also I’m trained in osteopathy in the cranial field, so I also consider how the bones in the skull move in relationship to everything else.

Would you consider osteopathy more holistic or medical?

That’s a good question, because I think it could be both. I have the ability as a fully trained physician to prescribe medication. In addition to that, I have this view of the human body that is very holistic - integrating mind, body and spirit.

Are the visits covered by insurance?

We are fully licensed physicians and, in fact, the medical board has both D.O.s and M.D.s on it. So insurances need to reimburse for osteopathy visits the same way that they would reimburse for visits to the M.D. It’s going to be covered. We’re not chiropractors and we’re not physical therapists, so it’s covered under medical.

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