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Osteopathic Medicine Osteopathic medicine is one of two fully licensed comprehensive systems of medical care in the United States. Practitioners of osteopathic medicine are identified by the letters “DO” while allopathic physicians are identified by the initials “MD.” Osteopathic medicine emphasizes the relationship between all organ systems of the body, including the musculoskeletal system (your bones and muscles) and the function of your entire body. Osteopathic physicians are licensed to prescribe medication and perform surgery. Although more than 60 percent are primary care physicians, DOs practice in all branches and specialties of medicine and have the same rights and responsibilities as MDs. The popularity of osteopathic medicine has grown in recent years. According to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, the number of graduates of colleges of osteopathic medicine more than doubled in the past decade. And the American Osteopathic Association reports that there are currently more than 77,000 DOs in this country, making up about 7 percent of all physicians. You’ll find DOs in local hospitals, private practices, community health clinics, academic medical centers and military hospitals—anywhere you expect to find a physician. So, if DOs are fully licensed physicians, what sets them apart from MDs? It is mostly in their approach to a medical or surgical problem. The approach is rooted in their philosophy. DOs take a holistic approach to medicine; this means they focus on the total person, not just the particular symptom, illness or disease. DOs believe that all the systems in your body—including the musculoskeletal system— operate in an integrated way. Problems with one system can affect the others. Perhaps the most significant difference between DOs and MDs is that DOs consider the role of the musculoskeletal system in relationship to symptoms and illness. They have special training in recognizing and correcting structural problems through various manual techniques called osteopathic manipulative

treatment (OMT), which are used primarily for diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal problems. Given this concern with muscle and bone, it’s not surprising that you will find many DOs in sports medicine and physical medicine and rehabilitation. How It Got Started Andrew Taylor Still, an MD, considered to be the father of osteopathic medicine, developed the discipline in 1874 after becoming disillusioned with how medicine was being practiced. A Civil War surgeon, Dr. Still was appalled by the ineffectiveness of traditional medical treatment. Later, he watched three of his children die frommeningitis, despite medical treatment. Dr. Still was particularly distressed by the use of drugs of this era. Many, such as arsenic and mercury compounds, he considered useless and even harmful. He focused on health, believing that the human body has the ability to heal itself. You could say he was an early proponent of “wellness”—now a common term among health care professionals. He identified the musculoskeletal system as an essential element of health and advocated preventive medicine, exercise and nutrition. DOs and MDs: Many Similarities In many ways, most DOs are almost indistinguishable from conventional MDs. The primary difference is philosophical and the types of diagnostic and treatment modalities that can be employed in medical care. Throughout their training, DOs are taught to treat the whole person. While many incorporate manipulative techniques within contemporary medical practices, you might not see a huge difference between a visit to a DO and a visit to an MD. It’s not surprising that there’s so much common ground. MDs have increasingly embraced a whole-person (holistic) approach to medicine—for instance, recognizing the effect of stress on physical health. Meanwhile, DOs have embraced the diagnostic and therapeutic approaches used by MDs, including the use of medication. The vast majority of DOs will use the same medical and surgical therapies as well as medications similar to an MD.

All states license DOs, and some have separate licensing boards. In states without separate boards, DOs are licensed through the same process as MDs. Either way, all physicians (both DOs and MDs) must be approved by a state medical board exam to be licensed. Both DOs and MDs attend three to four years of medical school, and applicants to both generally have a four-year undergraduate degree. After medical school, both DOs and MDs can choose to pursue a specialty, such as psychiatry, surgery, or obstetrics and gynecology, which involves a four- to six-year postgraduate training program. Diagnosis You can go to a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) for any condition that would lead you to seek out an allopathic MD. Finding an osteopathic physician is just as easy, but you must seek them out. Insurance companies cover visits to a DO just as they cover visits to an MD. So if you are on a health plan, look for DOs on your preferred provider list. (Medicare and Medicaid also pay for DO visits.) You can ask for referrals from other health care professionals, or go to the American Osteopathic Association’s website , where you will find a list of state associations that can refer you to a DO in your area. Your visit will proceed like any other appointment with a health care professional. The doctor or an associate will take your medical history. Some advocates of osteopathic medicine say that, because of their holistic orientation, DOs may spend a bit more time with patients, probing into lifestyle issues and their relationship to the overall physical condition. The osteopathic difference is the total holistic approach to caring for a patient. Each patient’s experience is what counts. But no matter how much time is spent in the DO’s office, you may find a greater emphasis on your overall well-being and lifestyle than on just the complaint that brought you into the office. Once a detailed history is assessed, a physical exam is performed just like it would be in an MD’s office. Of course, the nature of the exam depends on the reason for your visit.

With some DOs, you may notice one significant difference: a focus on your body’s structure in relationship to its function. The DO will assess your posture by asking you to stand, walk, sit and lie down. As you perform these tasks, the DO is observing your movements, structure of the spine and muscles and the balance of your body. As part of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), an osteopathic physician will conduct a hands-on examination. This involves evaluating your back and limbs, checking joints for pain or limited mobility and testing your muscles, tendons and ligaments for tenderness. The DO also will assess your reflexes, flexibility and muscle strength. These techniques help your doctor detect various abnormalities, including restrictions in range-of-motion, structural irregularities and changes in tissue textures. Moreover, these techniques give an added dimension when trying to narrow down the cause of your ailment or concern. Musculoskeletal disorders sometimes mimic other conditions and, accordingly, OMT may help your DO make a more accurate diagnosis and appropriate targeted treatment. Depending on the results of the exam, you may need other tests, including radiologic studies and/or lab studies, which the DO will order. Women’s Health DOs have a long-standing commitment to women’s health. In fact, Dr. Still was one of the first to admit women to medical school on a regular basis. Today, about half of the total enrollees in osteopathic medical schools are women. Treatment Osteopathic physicians, or DOs, can be seen for almost any condition, but a visit may be especially appropriate for musculoskeletal disorders, such as:    

carpal tunnel syndrome back pain joint pain neck pain

 sciatica  sports injuries  DOs may use osteopathic manipulative techniques (OMTs) to diagnose and treat these types of musculoskeletal problems. While OMT is generally used for musculoskeletal problems, it’s also used to relieve other conditions, including:         

arthritis migraines premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menstrual pain allergies asthma sinus problems chronic fatigue syndrome digestive problems fibromyalgia

Osteopathic principles stress the body’s own natural healing powers, the importance of the musculoskeletal system to the general well-being of the entire body and the interconnectedness of all the body’s systems. It is a holistic approach, looking at the entire patient, not just the disorder. For more Information visit us our website:

Osteopathic medicine  

Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) occurs when one or more organs in your pelvis—your uterus, vagina, urethra, bladder or rectum—shifts downward an...

Osteopathic medicine  

Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) occurs when one or more organs in your pelvis—your uterus, vagina, urethra, bladder or rectum—shifts downward an...