Osteopathic medicine is a holistic, patient-specific approach. Explaining the impact of osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) has been problematic because many of its effects are nonlinear. Complex systems theory (CST) is explored as a mechanism of understanding the interplay of the body’s anatomy and physiology, an illness process, and the effects of OMM. Tensegrity is discussed as an example of an emergent property of the body’s systems that affects not only biomechanics but also pathophysiology. Previous explanations of osteopathic philosophy are reviewed. The Host + Disease=Illness paradigm is a way to think through the impact of host and disease factors on an illness state, and how targeted interventions may affect the illness. The Osteopathic 5 Models are another way to view the body’s complexity. The area of greatest restriction (AGR) screen can be understood to direct OMM in a way that respects complexity and enables asymmetric and nonlocal results to realize health potential. The impact of this framework is in coherently explaining the impact of osteopathic philosophy and OMM and exploring new approaches to research.
J Osteopath Med; 123(4): 207-213