What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathic Medicine is a philosophical approach to the human condition, with emphasis on health of the whole person – MIND, BODY & SPIRIT. Osteopathic physicians and surgeons (D.O.) practice a “whole person” approach to medicine. Rather than emphasizing disease-state diagnosis and treating symptoms, D.O.’s concentrate on evaluating you as a whole person, diagnosing and prescribing the appropriate treatment for your condition encompassing MIND, BODY & SPIRIT.

D.O.’s evaluate how all the body’s systems are interconnected and how each one affects the other. They focus special attention on the musculoskeletal system, which reflects and influences the condition of all other body systems.

One of the Osteopathic concepts of good medicine is that the body’s musculoskeletal system is central to the patient’s well-being. The musculoskeletal system includes the bones, muscles, tendons, tissues, nerves and spinal column–about 60 percent of the body mass. This framework influences all the body’s organs. Our bodies respond–properly or improperly—every time a breath is drawn or any other body movement occurs. Besides being prone to mechanical disorders, the musculoskeletal system reflects many internal illnesses and may aggravate or accelerate the disease process throughout the body. The osteopathic physician takes advantage of this fact in management not only of problems of the musculoskeletal system itself, but also in managing disorders affecting the rest of the body as well.

Osteopathic physicians utilize all of the recognized procedures and modern technologies for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, including medications, X-rays, MRI’s, and surgery. In addition, the D.O. assesses the musculoskeletal system by the use of a finely trained sense of touch in a process called palpatory diagnosis. Disorders found in the musculoskeletal system are treated by the introduction of carefully applied manual forces, directed to the bones, muscles and joints, in a type of treatment called Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT). Often, it can provide an alternative to pain medications or surgery.

Disturbances affecting the musculoskeletal system can cause symptoms that stimulate other illnesses. The most common example is recurrent headaches which there is often a disorder of the cervical (upper) portion of the spinal column. Properly applied OMT can often relieve headache symptoms when other remedies have failed.
Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment is often part of the medical management for headaches, migraines, sinus problems and pulmonary distress. Obstetricians often use manipulation to relieve low back pain during pregnancy or as additional medical treatment for menstrual cramps.

By combining unique osteopathic principles with traditional diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, D.O.’s offer a balanced system of healthcare to both prevent and cure disease. The osteopathic approach is a true system of preventive medicine, treating the whole person, not just the disease

The Differences between D.O.’s and M.D.’s
American osteopathic physicians are fully licensed physicians and surgeons. To become licensed, they must graduate from an osteopathic medical school accredited by the American Osteopathic Association’s Commission of Osteopathic College Accreditation (AOACOCA). After completing osteopathic medical school, D.O.s serve a one-year internship. During that year, they gain hands-on experience in internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, family practice, pediatrics and surgery. Following the internship year, most D.O.’s continue their education by entering a residency program in their chosen specialty.
There are currently more than 100,000 D.O.s in the United States, with 65 percent of them in primary care areas of family practice, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology and pediatrics. D.O.s comprise 6 percent of the total physician population and 18 percent of all physicians in the military. Each year, 100 million patient visits are made to D.O.s. In the USA, an osteopathic physician is a fully licensed and trained physician but possesses the additional skill of osteopathic manipulation. Each DO is licensed by each individual state to practice Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery.

DOs and MDs are Similar
All must have four years of undergraduate training with an emphasis on science courses.
All must complete four years of medical school.
All may choose a medical specialty after completing medical school.
All must pass state licensing examination.
All may practice in hospitals, medical centers, U.S. Military, U.S. Public Heath Service, etc.

D.O.s and MDs are Different
D.O.s focus on preventive health care.
D.O.s receive additional training in the musculoskeletal system, gaining a therapeutic and diagnostic advantage.
D.O.s treat the whole person, and don’t focus on just specific symptoms.
D.O.s incorporate osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) into their practice which allows them to use their hands to diagnose and treat soft tissue injury or illness, thereby encouraging the body’s natural tendency toward health.